Its title poem responding to the February 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the poetry collection “Surreal Expulsion” by David James of the Hope College faculty invites the reader to consider the dynamics of life in an era of division, violence and injustice.
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. The collection, which includes new works as well as selections that appeared previously in a variety of poetry journals, was published earlier this month by The Poetry Box of Beaverton, Oregon.
“The poems in ‘Surreal Expulsion’ are both topical and wise as they address the human condition, and they deftly walk the line between gravitas and levity,” said Sonia Greenfield, who is editor of the online journal Rise Up Review and author of “American Parable” and “Boy with a Halo at the Farmer’s Market.” “Some of that levity comes from the very apparent love D.R. James has for the sound of language and the potential for word play that arises from the making of meaning. As intellectual exercises, these poems wake the mind and ask us to consider our place among the masses; as verbal amuse-bouches, they feel good in the mouth and ask to be savored.”
James is also the author of seven previous poetry collections, including “If god were gentle” (Dos Madres Press 2017), “Since Everything Is All I’ve Got” (March Street Press 2011), and the chapbooks “Split-Level” and “Why War” (both Finishing Line Press 2017 and 2014). He has had poetry and prose in numerous print and online journals, including Bullets into Bells, Caring Magazine, Coe Review, Diner, Dunes Review, The Ekphrastic Review, Friends of William Stafford Newsletter, Galway Review, HEArt Online, Hotel Amerika, Ithaca Lit, North Dakota Quarterly, Passager, Rattle, Rise Up Review, The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, Sycamore Review and The Writer’s Chronicle; and anthologies, including “Ritual to Read Together: Poems in Conversation with William Stafford” (Woodley 2013) and “Poetry in Michigan / Michigan in Poetry” (New Issues 2013).
James is an adjunct associate 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 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 several K-12 writing projects for Ottawa and Ionia County teachers.
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 Suzy Doyle have six grown children and four grandchildren.