Jack Ridl was raised in the suburbs of Pittsburgh. He was one of two children born to Betty and Charles “Buzz” Ridl, a multisport coach at Westminster College in Pennsylvania. He later became a basketball coach at the University of Pittsburgh.
Ridl is the author of five poetry collections: Saint Peter and the Goldfinch (Wayne State University Press, 2019); Practicing to Walk Like a Heron (Wayne State University Press, 2013); Losing Season (Cavan Kerry Press, 2009); Broken Symmetry (Wayne State University Press, 2006), selected by the Society of Midland Authors as the best book of poetry published in 2006; and Poems from the Same Ghost (Dawn Valley Press, 1984). He is also the author of six chapbooks, including Against Elegies (Ridgeway Press, 2001), which was selected by Billy Collins and Sharon Dolin as the winner of the 2001 Chapbook Award from the Center for Book Arts. Ridl has also served as a coeditor of several anthologies, including Poetry in Michigan / Michigan in Poetry (New Issues Poetry and Prose, 2013), coedited with William Olsen; Approaching Literature: Reading + Thinking + Writing (Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2011), coedited with Peter Schakel; and Literature: A Portable Anthology (Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2011), coedited with Janet E. Gardner, Joanne Diaz, Beverly Lawn, and Peter Schakel.
Ridl’s other awards include those for his teaching. He received the HOPE Award for Outstanding Professor and, in 1996, the Carnegie Foundation named him “Michigan Professor of the Year.”
Ridl taught at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, from 1971 until his retirement in 2006. With his spouse, Julie, he cofounded the school’s visiting writers series, which is named for him. He lives in Douglas, Michigan.