Why War

David James of the Hope College English faculty, writing as D.R. James, explores conflict in myriad forms and its aftermath in “Why War,” a chapbook of poetry published recently by Finishing Line Press of Georgetown, Kentucky.

“’Why War’ has no question mark, and that is no minor matter, turning the title into something like a Zen koan,” said Fred Marchant, author of the collections “The Looking House” and “Full Moon Boat,” who spoke at Hope in February 2012 through the college’s A.J. Muste Memorial Lecture Series.  “This poetry probes the ‘why war’ we instinctively wage with life.  We demand answers, crave reasons why, especially regarding undeserved suffering.  This collection arcs from the family legacies of war, through the painful dissolution of a marriage, and finally presents a speaker who is ‘beyond compliance, beyond resistance,’ the clarity of truly being in the present.”

James’s prior poetry publications include the full-length collection “Since Everything Is All I’ve Got” (2011) and the chapbooks “Psychological Clock” (2007), “Lost Enough” (2007) and “A Little Instability without Birds” (2006).  He has had poetry published in numerous journals, including “Hotel Amerika,” “North Dakota Quarterly,” “Oberon,” “Passager,” “Rattle,” “Ruminate” and “Sycamore Review,” as well as in the anthologies “Poetry in Michigan/Michigan in Poetry” (2013) and “A Ritual to Read Together: Poems in Conversation with William Stafford” (2013).  James goes by D.R. rather than David to distinguish his work from that of another poet, David James, who writes from the east side of the state.

James is an adjunct professor of English at Hope, where he teaches writing and literature, and is coordinator of academic coaching with the college’s Academic Success Center.  He has been a member of the faculty since 1987, and also taught at Hope full-time from 1982 to 1984.

Former director of Hope’s writing center and August Seminars, he helped develop the college’s most recent writing across the curriculum program and led summer faculty-development workshops on the teaching of writing.  He also helped develop Hope’s initial PATH writing program for gifted and talented adolescents.

Prior to joining the Hope faculty, he taught English, French and theatre at Holland High School, Saugatuck High School and the now long-closed St. Augustine Seminary for high school boys, formerly located in what is now Saugatuck Dunes State Park. He has been a consultant to school districts and intermediate school districts on the teaching of writing at the kindergarten through 12th-grade level, and facilitated an Ottawa-area writing project for teachers for three summers.

James graduated from Hope in 1976 with majors in English and French.  He received an M.A. in literature and composition from the University of Iowa in 1980, and an M.F.A. in poetry from Pacific University in 2013.  He and his wife, hospice bereavement counselor Suzy Doyle, have six grown children.

Copies of “Why War” are available at the college’s Hope-Geneva Bookstore, as well as at Reader’s World in Holland and The Bookman in Grand Haven.  The Hope-Geneva Bookstore is located on the ground level of the DeWitt Center, 141 E. 12th St., and can be called at 800-946-4673 or (616) 395-7833 or emailed at bookstore@hope.edu.