About the Event
The SCA invites the public to an outdoor reading of Alison Swan’s latest poetry collection, A Fine Canopy (Wayne State University Press, 2020) in conversation with local poet and lakeshore resident, Jack Ridl, and facilitated by Executive Director of the Saugatuck Center for the Arts, Kristin Armstrong. Following the conversation, audience members will have the opportunity to ask questions and have copies of their books to sign. Please note this event is free and open to the public, however there is limited capacity and a $5 donation is suggested. RSVP to reserve your spot. A Fine Canopy is now available for purchase here and the day of the event.
After the reading and conversation, patrons are invited for an afternoon of nature-writing with Alison and Jack in the SCA Rain Garden. Drawing from examples in A Fine Canopy, Alison will lead the group in a writing workshop where attendees are invited to engage their observation and sensory skills to communicate their personal connections to our West Michigan landscape and environment. This workshop is open to all backgrounds, ages 15 and up, with no experience required. Please note this workshop is a ticketed event and includes a copy of A Fine Canopy.
A Fine Canopy, illustrates how the natural world envelops and encloses us with so many beautiful things: crowns of leaves, the ubiquitous blue sky, our luminous moon, and snow. So much snow. An ecopoet whose writing shows her advocacy for natural resources, in this collection Swan calls the reader to witness, appreciate, and sustain this world before it becomes too late. Her poems, many of which were inspired by the West Michigan lakeshore, were written out of an impulse to track down wisdom in the open air, outside of the noisy world of cars and commerce.
Without necessarily tackling the topics head-on, A Fine Canopy evokes the devastation of climate change and the destruction of natural resources. This book engages deeply with the other-than-human to express and investigate alarm, dismay, anger, admiration, adoration in what feels like the end of the world unless we begin to think outside the box. These poems will carry weight with all readers of poetry, especially those who are interested in eco-poetry and connecting with the world around them.
Alison Swan was born in the Great Lakes Basin.A Fine Canopy is her fifth book. Her poems and environmental writing have appeared in many publications, including the recent award-winning anthologies Elemental, Ghost Fishing, and Here. In 2006, Alison’s book Fresh Water was named a Michigan Notable Book. Co-author of The Saugatuck Dunes: Artists Respond to a Freshwater Landscape and co-founder of Concerned Citizens for Saugatuck Dunes State Park, she has been awarded a Mesa Refuge Residency and the Michigan Environmental Council’s Petoskey Prize for Grassroots Environmental Leadership. After stints on the east and west coasts of North America, Alison Swan settled back in Michigan’s lower peninsula where she teaches environmental writing at Western Michigan University.
Jack Ridl, Poet Laureate of Douglas, Michigan (Population 1100), in April 2019 released Saint Peter and the Goldfinch (Wayne State University Press). His Practicing to Walk Like a Heron (WSU Press, 2013) was awarded the National Gold Medal for poetry by ForeWord Reviews/Indie Fab. His collection Broken Symmetry (WSU Press) was co-recipient of The Society of Midland Authors best book of poetry award for 2006. His Losing Season (Cavan Kerry Press) was named the best sports book of the year for 2009 by The Institute for International Sport. Then Poet Laureate Billy Collins selected his Against Elegies for The Center for Book Arts Chapbook Award. Every Thursday following the 2016 election he sends out a commentary and poem. The students at Hope College named him both their Outstanding Professor and their Favorite Professor, and in 1996 The Carnegie (CASE) Foundation named him Michigan Professor of the Year. More than 90 of Jack’s students are published, several of whom have received First Book Awards, national honors. For further information about Jack, his website is www.ridl.com.