The quarterly poetry journal “Rattle” has named the collection “Practicing to Walk Like a Heron” by emeritus professor Jack Ridl of the Hope College English faculty an “Editor’s Pick.”
Featuring the collection in the publication’s online summer 2014 microreviews section, editor Timothy Green noted, “Most of the poems are set in his house or backyard, which could be my house or backyard, if only I’d stop to notice the wonder of it. And after reading this book, for a while, I do. That joy alone is worth the cover price.”
Green continued: “Ridl’s poem from ‘Rattle,’ ‘Hardship in a Nice Place,’ is a good example, but the poems in this book are all that strong—which, at over 150 pages, is saying something.”
The full review is found at http://www.rattle.com/poetry/microreviews/
“Practicing to Walk Like a Heron” was published in February 2013 in the “Made in Michigan Writers Series” of Wayne State University Press. Earlier this year, the publication received Gold recognition for poetry in the 2013 IndieFab Awards competition sponsored by “Foreword Reviews” magazine (a collection by 1998 Hope graduate Christopher Dombrowski, “Earth Again,” also published by Wayne State University Press in February 2013, received the Silver Award in the same competition). Selections from the collection have also been featured on “The Writer’s Almanac” with Garrison Keillor, most recently this past Friday, Aug. 29.
Ridl taught at Hope from 1971 until retiring in 2006. He is the author or editor 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 has received multiple honors for his collections. The anthology “Poetry in Michigan/Michigan in Poetry,” which he co-edited with award-winning poet Dr. William Olsen of the Western Michigan University English faculty, was named a 2014 Michigan Notable Book. His 2009 collection “Losing Season” (CavanKerry Press) was named the 2009 “Sports Education Book of the Year” by the Institute for International Sport at the University of Rhode Island. The Society of Midland Authors named his collection “Broken Symmetry” one of the two best volumes of poetry published in 2006. 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.
Ridl also received recognition both at Hope and beyond as a master teacher. 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.
More than 85 of Ridl’s students are now published authors themselves.