Jack Ridl Wins Center for Book
Arts "Letterpress Chapbook
Posted May 7, 2001
HOLLAND -- Jack Ridl of the Hope College English
faculty has won the 2001 "Letterpress Chapbook Competition"
sponsored by the Center for Book Arts of New York City.
Ridl's winning collection, "Against Elegies," will
be published in a letterpress-printed, limited-edition
chapbook designed, printed and bound by artists at the
Center for Book Arts. There were some 500 entries in the
prestigious competition, which was judged by poets Sharon
Dolin, who also coordinated the competition, and Billy
In addition to the publication--limited to 100
signed and numbered copies--Ridl will be honored during a
celebration and reading at the center on Thursday, Nov. 1.
He is also receiving a $1,000 combined cash award and
Given the level of competition for the award, Ridl
noted that he feels honored to have been chosen, adding that
he particularly values that Collins, whose work he admires,
chose his manuscript. "To have Billy Collins be the one who
selected the poems is a wonderful affirmation," he said.
Ridl said that the poems of "Against Elegies" are
linked thematically in beginning with everyday objects and
situations that have meaning beneath the surface.
"In most of these poems, I start with something
that doesn't necessarily look meaningful, and then I'm
searching in the poems to find meaningfulness--why it might
matter," he said. "And we're surrounded by these things."
The Center for Book Arts is dedicated to
preserving the traditional crafts of book-making, as well as
exploring and encouraging contemporary interpretations of
the book as an art object. Founded in 1974, the non-profit
center does its work through exhibitions, publications,
lectures, services to artists and classes.
"This is one of many wonderful things about this
particular selection, having people who are devoting their
lives to creating quality books design and produce the
book," Ridl said. "I am very excited by this. Just imagine
having a whole cultural institution devoted to preserving
quality in making books. I can't wait to see what they come
Ridl is the author of other published collections
including "The Same Ghost" (1985), "Between" (1988), the
chapbook "After School" (1987) and "Poems from The Same
Ghost and Between" (1993). He has published more than 175
poems in journals such as "The Georgia Review," "Poetry
East," "Chelsea," "Gulf Coast," "The Denver Quarterly,"
"Poetry," "The New York Quarterly," "Ploughshares," "Prairie
Schooner" and "FIELD." He has also had work included in
several anthologies, and is co-author, with Hope colleague
Peter Schakel, of the text "Approaching Poetry:
Perspectives and Responses."
He has read his work and led workshops at
colleges, universities, art colonies and other venues around
the country. He teaches intermediate and advanced courses
in poetry writing at Hope, and also founded the college's
Visiting Writers Series.
Among other honors, in 1996 he was chosen
Michigan's "Professor of the Year" by the Carnegie
Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. He was named
one of eight "New Voices in Michigan Poetry" in 1984,
received a Creative Artist Award from the Michigan Council
for the Arts in 1988 and has received several nominations
for the Pushcart Prize. The college's graduating class of
1975 presented him with the "Hope Outstanding Professor
As word of his most recent award has spread, Ridl
has received a variety of congratulatory notes from
colleagues. "I've had so many wonderful messages from
friends," he said.
He noted that he has been touched by one in
particular, sent by someone who had also entered the
competition. "It said, 'Dear Jack: I got a rejection slip
today. It's the only one that ever made me happy.'"