Jack Ridl, professor emeritus of English at Hope College, has won the 2012 Gary Gildner Poetry Award from the I-70 Review literary magazine.
Ridl, who taught at Hope from 1971 until retiring in 2006, won the award for his poem “Easter, 1948.” Recognition will include an announcement in “Poets and Writers” and a profile as a featured poet on the I-70 Review website, which will also publish the poem, as well as a $500 prize. The award is named in honor of writer Gary Gildner.
Ridl is the author of several collections of poetry, and has also published more than 300 poems in journals and has work included in numerous anthologies. In addition, he has read his work and led workshops at colleges, universities, art colonies and other venues around the country.
He grew up in both the world of basketball, where his father, C.G. “Buzz” Ridl, was a well-known head coach at Westminster College and the University of Pittsburgh, and the world of the circus, inherited from his mother’s family. Both have informed his writing.
Through the years, for example, he has written dozens of sports-themed poems and essays that have been published broadly. In 2007, he was named one of the 100 most influential sports educators in America, recognized as “sports poet” by the Institute for International Sport.
Ridl’s most recent collection, “Losing Season,” published by CavanKerry Press in 2009, chronicles a year of hope and defeat on and off the basketball court in a small town. The collection and selections from it have been featured nationally, including on National Public Radio’s “The Story” with Dick Gordon and on “The Writer’s Almanac” with Garrison Keillor, where he is currently also the poet profiled in “The Writer’s Almanac Bookshelf.”
His preceding collection, “Broken Symmetry,” was named one of the two best volumes of poetry published in 2006 by the Society of Midland Authors. In 2001, his collection “Against Elegies” was chosen by U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins as the winner of the “Letterpress Chapbook Competition” sponsored by the Center for Book Arts of New York City. Ridl’s other volumes include “The Same Ghost,” “Between,” “After School,” “Poems from ‘The Same Ghost’ and ‘Between,’” and “Outside the Center Ring.”
In addition to his volumes of poetry, Ridl is co-author, with Hope colleague Peter Schakel, of two textbooks, “Approaching Poetry: Perspectives and Responses” and “Approaching Literature.” They also co-edited two anthologies.
In 1996, he was chosen Michigan’s “Professor of the Year” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The college’s graduating class presented him with the “Hope Outstanding Professor Educator” Award in 1976, and the student body elected him recipient of the “Favorite Faculty/Staff Member” Award in 2003. He was chosen by the graduating seniors to be the Commencement speaker in both 1975 and 1986. The college’s Visiting Writers Series, which he co-founded in 1982 with his wife Julie Garlinghouse Ridl, was named in his honor in 2006.
Westminster College, from which he holds both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, presented him with an “Alumni Citation Award” in September 2005.