Award-winning poet shares work, views during campus visit
November 16, 2009 —
The Voices in the Valley series continued with awardwinning poet and author Jack Ridl speaking on campus last week. Ridl shared his experiences and poetry, as well as offering advice to aspiring writers.
Ridl has written seven poetry collections and has published 300 poems in magazines over the course of his career.
A retired professor from Hope College, he has earned awards for teaching, including a spot on the list of the 100 most influential sports educations in America by the Institute for International Sport.
Before taking the stage at the Founders Hall on Monday evening, he met with three creative writing classes throughout the day for discussions with students.
Meeting with the creative writing classes, Ridl fielded questions from students about his works, as well as the writing process he goes through.
“It was also nice to be able to talk with an author in a small group setting where you could ask questions,” said Christine Janowiak, one student present at a classroom session. “Ridl was really interested in our work as well, which was really nice. We were able to talk about the different ways the students attending the event wrote along with how Ridl himself wrote.”
After meeting with students, Ridl spoke before a small crowd at the Founders Hall. Between reading his own works to the audience, Ridl spoke a great deal about his family, sports and inspiration he drew from his life to create his poetry.
“I’ve been acquainted with Jack Ridl for some years, through meeting him at various readings around the state.” said Judith Kerman, the faculty member behind most of the Voices in the Valley readings.“ I like his poetry, and I also thought students would probably enjoy his personality and the fact that he has a sports connection.”
Despite a somewhat weak showing at the evening reading, the classroom readings all nearly had full rooms with Ridl.
“He gave a very good reading,” Kerman said. “I wish more students had attended. His visits to creative writing classes were very successful, with lots of questions and good discussion between him and the students.”
“He had a lot of interesting pieces that he read from,” said Janowiak, who also attended the evening reading.“ And when he wasn’t reading his work he was telling stories and observations and making jokes, all of which worked nicely with the pieces he read.”
Kerman said she hopes that students walked away enjoying Ridl’s poems and a sense of how down-to-earth a poet can be.