Jack Ridl & Chris Dombrowski
Dombrowski, now one of the writing teachers in the innovative creative writing program at the Interlochen Arts Academy outside Traverse City, shares the domestic concerns and the sense of familial continuity that occupy his former teacher, yet he often puts his words in a challenging syntax that forces the reader to stop and reevaluate them. His new collection, Earth Again, has several long and ambitious poems. "Not Knowledge" is a complex poem that directly challenges Keats' sentence "Memory should not be called knowledge." It begins "My mother's brother's friend: so tall in her memory / he seems as she talks of him like memory itself. / He walked her home a time or two, his brown corduroys / coming together at his knees, the wales scratching out / a sturdy rhythm near her ears ..." And then Dombrowksi has an eight-line parenthetical moment in his mother's voice, before returning to the same sentence. Even the word "wales"--which I had to look up to see what it was doing in this context--forced me to step back a moment from the action the poet describes. Yet the force of Dombrowski's poems is always directed toward the questions of continuity and the place of the poet in the natural world. There is a continuing seriousness of purpose he may have learned from his former teacher, Jack Ridl.
Both poets read from their work at the downtown library on May 18 as part of the "Made in Michigan Mad Lib" event.
[Originally published in May, 2013.]