Hope alumni returns to share inspirations


HOW TO BE A WRITER — Authors Chris Dombroski and Shann Ray touch on the inspiration and fun of their writing. Ray shares, “We are in a creative age of nonfiction.” (Hope College)

The Jack Ridl Visting Writing Series featured Shann Ray and Hope College Alumnus Chris Dombroski for its first event. Both authors were showcased on campus Sept. 19 in the Fried-Hemenway Auditorium and Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts for a question- and-answer session and reading, respectively.

Shanley Smith (’19) introduced Ray, and Erica Sarvis (’18) presented Dombroski. Smith posed the first question, “How do you balance both passions of writing and teaching?”

Dombroski is the author of “Body of Water: A Sage, a Seeker, and the World’s Most Alluring Fish.” Dombroski shared that he teaches six months out of the year and writes the other six months, “like a rancher, a certain time of year you plant in the ground.” Dombroski, originally from Michigan, graduated in 1998. He went on to earn his MFA from the University of Montana. He currently resides in Missoula, Montana where he is a fly-fishing guide, founder of the Beargrass Writing Retreat and currently the Kittredge Distinguished Visiting Writer in the Environmental Studies Program of the University of Montana.

Sarvis questioned Dombroski on the effect of nature in his work. “The more intense my experiences are, the more justice I want to do for them, but I’m a little tentative,” Dombroski shared, referring to his experiences in the woods and hearing wolves howl. Ray shared his writing was done at night and his day passions includs his three daughters and wife who provides an array of music and dancing at home.

A licensed clinical psychologist, Ray lives in Spokane, Washington and teaches leadership and forgiveness at Gonzaga University. He is a poet and prose writer with his debut novel, “American Copper,” winning the Foreword Book of the Year Readers’ Choice Award and the Western Writers of American Spur Award.

Ray shared his passion for the wilderness, especially the areas he grew up in. When prompted further on inspiration for his writing he shared, “I was scared of writing, but I had a love for it.”

Dombroski and Ray are previous friends and share works with each other. “My inspiration to write is the rich community of writers,” Dombroski stated, “The pleasure a writer knows is the pleasure of sages.”

The next Visting Writers Series will take place Thursday, Oct. 19. Paisley Rekdal will do a question-and-answer series as well as a reading of her latest nonfiction work, “The Broken Country,” and her newest poetry work, “Imaginary Vessles.”

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