Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Zachary Michael Jack  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Fiction Non-Fiction Poetry

Audience: Adult;


-- Website --
-- Zachary Michael Jack on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Jack is an Associate Professor of English at North Central College in Naperville.

Biographical and Professional Information

Zachary Michael Jack has published more than twenty award-winning books in a variety of genres, including fiction, poetry, literary journalism, creative nonfiction, and personal essay, in addition to his work as a playwright. Jack's fiction has earned national runner-up honors in its class in the Foreword Reviews Book of the Year Award; his poetry has been awarded the Prentice Hall Prize, and his nonfiction has received nominations for the Pushcart Prize, the Theodore Saloutos Award, the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award, the Herbert Warren Wind Award, and the Shambaugh Award, among others. His golf writing has also earned him recognition as an Editor's Pick by Golf Digest and a Best Books of 2011 by Golf magazine. He has also edited many books including: *''Student Body: A Benefit Mystery Novella'' *''Love of the Land: Essential Farm and Conservation Readings from an American Golden Age, 1880-1920'' *''The Green Roosevelt: Theodore Roosevelt in Appreciation of Wilderness, Wildlife, and Wild Places'' *''Inside the Ropes: Sportswriters Get Their Game On'' *''The Plowman Sings : The Essential Fiction, Poetry, and Drama of America's Forgotten Regionalist Jay G. Sigmund'' *''Homer Croy Corn Country: Travel Writing, Literary Journalism, Memoir'' *''Letters To A Young Iowan: Good Sense From The Good Folks of Iowa For Young People Everywhere''*''Liberty Hyde Bailey: Essential Agrarian and Environmental Writings'' *''Black Earth and Ivory Tower: New American Essays from Farm and Classroom'' *''Participatory Sportswriting: An Anthology 1870-1937''*''Uncle Henry Wallace: Letters to Farm Families'' - the updated edition of ''The Furrow and Us'' which was authored by his great-grandfather. Jack was a contributor to the book, ''Winning on the North Side: The 1929 Chicago Cubs'' and the writer of the introduction of the book, ''Farewell to Sport.'' The author and his work have also been featured in USA Today, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Huffington Post, the Indianapolis Star, and the Des Moines Register. Jack's books have been favorably reviewed by the The New York Review of Books, Publisher's Weekly, Choice, Kirkus, Foreword Reviews, and other industry-shaping opinion-makers.An associate professor of English, he teaches Writing, Editing, and Publishing Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) program at North Central College and speaks to groups nationwide.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

ISBN: 1595409610


In his eagerly awaited poetic debut, Zachary Michael Jack takes his readers on mind-bending, mytho-poetic travels from modern-day rural Mexico to the American Great Plains of the early century and back again. Employing an unlikely list of dramatis personae ranging from Tom Selleck to Nikita Krushchev, Jack's many-voiced story-in-poems follows his narrator's solitary stay in a Mexican mission and the heart-rending dialogue with Bird-an anthropomorphized alter-ego and trickster figure-that ensues. By turns, sad, funny, and wise, The Inanity of Music and Wings is both inimitable and delightfully uncanny-a wonderbeast of a collection part American Gothic, part Don Quixote, and wholly original. ~~~~~~Bio: Zachary Michael Jack is the author of the fine arts poetry chapbook The Story of Grief and the editor of two previous essay collections: Black Earth and Ivory Tower: New American Essays from Farm and Classroom and The Furrow and Us. His poetry has earned him the Prentice Hall Poetry Prize, a nomination for a Pushcart (Best of the Small Presses) Prize, and writing residencies at New York's prestigious Blue Mountain Center and Ireland's Tyrone Guthrie Centre, among others. A native of Iowa, where his family has farmed since before the Civil War, Jack is an assistant professor of English at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois and the director-founder of Iowa School of Lost Arts for children.

Perfectly Against the Sun
ISBN: 0977721701

Smithtown Press. 2006

In PERFECTLY AGAINST THE SUN, Zachary Michael Jack takes his readers to a middle west more far-out and more fantastical than ever imagined. In these groundbreaking tone poems, the great swath of middle country from Akron, to Wichita, to Paducah is bathed in blue, shadowed by archetypes animal and human, burned through by a fiercely purifying sun. In Jack's exquisitely layered poetic vision, the black-dirt Delta towns of Memphis and Cairo turn modern-day necropolis Waterloo, Iowa becomes the waterloo of a thousand last stands and row upon row of Kansas corn suggests an afterlife. The book's protagonist, alternately wearing the masks of tragedian, librettist, auteur, athlete, and impressionist, unearths the deep roots that sustain and bind, imagining his way into, and way out of, losses suffered deep in the heart of the Heartland. Here, the camp horror of Hollywood assumes eerie resonance, the athletic field reads as timeless epic, and the famously blank canvas of the Great Plains whirls into a painterly starry night. From the author of THE INANITY OF MUSIC AND WINGS comes a second book-length collection announcing a poet-storyteller among the best of his rising generation. "Zachary Michael Jack's style . Agrarian Surrealism? Homespun L-A-N-G-U-A-G-E? A tractor with a photon engine!" --Jim Clark, author of DANCING ON CANAAN'S RUINS and HANDIWORK "Here is a poet who goes about his art and craft with gusto, subtlety, and fearlessness. Each poem brings us home truths from the Heartland in many miraculous ways." --Dave Etter, author of THE ESSENTIAL DAVE ETTER and more than two dozen books of poems. "An amalgam as deep and rich as the author's native soil. " --Don Johnson, editor of HUMMERS, KNUCKLERS, AND SLOW CURVES: CONTEMPORARY BASEBALL POEMS.

Iowa: The Definitive Collection
ISBN: 1888160381

Ice Cube Press. 2009

Iowa, the Definitive Collection gathers for student, teacher, researcher, and leisure reader alike a rich harvest of Iowa lore as told by a bevy of its most famous and forgotten voices Iowa history as made and told by Iowans, for Iowans. Totaling over 500 browsable pages and nearly 100 highly readable, classic and contemporary selections, this mammoth compendium of Iowa history, literature, and lore captures the Hawkeye State more diversely and more comprehensively than ever before. Here is a book a big book of Iowa readings of every conceivable kind (campaign platforms, creeds, diaries, editorials, ethnographic studies, fictions, government documents, history, humor, journalism, legal opinions, letters, memoirs, pamphlets, speeches, travel narratives, and more) and of every historical vintage (from Black Hawk s lament on being ordered to move west to Iowa in 1831 to Iowa writer-anthropologist Robert Leonard s freshly-penned roll call of the many different Iowans he has known). Between these covers, world-famous sons and daughters of Iowa, including Carrie Chapman Catt, Bob Feller, Susan Glaspell, Herbert Hoover, Ted Kooser, Aldo Leopold, Glenn Miller, Wallace Stegner, Henry Wallace, Grant Wood, and many others join a chorus of forgotten or neglected native greats to tell the story of their home state as only Iowans can tell it. Perfect fodder for Iowa history and literature classes, book clubs, civic organizations, museums, libraries, and visitor centers across the Land Between Two Rivers, Iowa, the Definitive Collection offers a first-of-its-kind, popular documentary history suitable for singing loudly, proudly, and circumspectly across the State, and across generations.

What Cheer: A Love Story
ISBN: 188816042X

Tall Corn Books. 2010

Part romantic comedy, part whodunit, part great American road trip, What Cheer asks a lover's ageless questions: where, when, and with whom? Here's a celebration of love sprung from perfectly surreal yet real places What Cheer, Lost Nation, Story County. Here s a comedy of errors featuring three not-yet-over-the-hill friends, a series of dreamy love letters, and a mysterious list of warm, nearly-gone touchstones that inspire a rollicking ride through the Heartland. What Cheer is love medicine for those whose daisy chains reach the sweetest, most far-flung places.

The Links of Evalon
ISBN: 0984508309

Sportswriters Collaborative Press. 2010

"It is not uncommon for fathers and sons to come to blows if the two love one another." So says Dr. Harlan Cragg, an ageless, cantankerous golf pro determined to probe the differences between Robert and Jack Johannes, a loving father and son grown distant. When the pair answer the doctor's summons to the Evalon Island Golf Academy, they sign on to a series of mystical tests of their essential nature, their true mettle. Storm-stayed, the duo must confront golfing angels and demons while unearthing the startling legacies of golfers before them. Soon father and son have passed every exam save one: a final round on the famed Links of Evalon destined to change their partnership forever. A timeless, richly illustrated novel for golfers young and old, The Links of Evalon is as enlightening and mysterious as the game itself.

Native Soulmate: A Season in Search of a Love Homegrown
ISBN: 188816056X

Tall Corn Books. 2011

A real-life sequel to the award-winning romance novel What Cheer At the height of a Heartland summer a seventh generation Midwesterner unlucky in love sets forth from a faraway farm on a quest to road-test what he calls his Beach Boys hypothesis: What if we really do live in a world where native boy meets native girl...What if the cutest girls and boys in the world really do live right under our nose? So begins a Cinderella season in search of a love homegrown. Pursuing the dream wherever it may lead, the author delivers speeches in far-flung farm burgs and readings in well-to do college towns while setting up listening posts in libraries and chautauquas in barns. Part 1500-mile travelogue and part real-life love story, Native Soulmate offers not just an account of a magical trek and its uncanny, sweetcorn settings, but a moving argument for how voting with your feet and leading with your heart really can matter.

Let There Be Pebble: A Middle-Handicapper's Year in America's Garden of Golf
ISBN: 0803233574

University of Nebraska Press. 2011

It was scary, Jack Nicklaus said of Pebble Beach, and gave him nightmares so acute he famously woke his wife on the eve of his 1972 U.S. Open victory totally spooked. It s not a golf course, sportswriter Jim Murray wrote, it s a hellship. Golf writer Dan Jenkins once joked that the famed venue of the Bing Crosby National Pro-Am should be dubbed Double Bogey-by-the-Sea.

A one-time failed Division One golf walk-on, Zachary Michael Jack opts to stare down an early midlife crisis by chronicling a U.S. Open year spent at Pebble Beach, object of his ailing father s fantasies and site of the nation s number one public course and its fairy-tale host town, Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. There, along the blue Pacific, he traces the colorful, capricious, and comical world of golf on the Monterey Peninsula as never before via interviews with legends of the game Johnny Miller, Gary Player, and Tom Watson with today s brightest stars Padraig Harrington, Phil Mickelson, and Bubba Watson and with some of its most famous celebrity linksters actor Bill Murray, Olympic soccer star Brandi Chastain, and billionaire entrepreneur Charles Schwab.

Conducting more than one hundred interviews, Jack ranges far and wide to get the scoop, talking golfing haunts with bestselling golf novelist Michael Murphy teeing up with members of a Carmel-based worldwide golfing society devoted to mystical play learning to play Pebble at the knee of one of the Top 50 Golf Teachers in America and with a Carmel-based journeyman pro described as a golf savant and raising a cup with a lifelong Pebble Beach resident and caddy who, unbeknownst to the hackers he shepherds, is a Hall of Fame golfer. By turns hilarious, haunting, and historic, Let There Be Pebble reveals the utter uniqueness the people, the rich history, the unforgettable setting and sporting culture of this one-of-a-kind golfing cathedral.

Midwest Farmer's Daughter: In Search of an American Icon
ISBN: 1557536198

Purdue University Press. 2012

From yesterday's gingham girls to today's Farmer Janes, The Midwest Farmer's Daughter unearths the untold history and renewed cultural currency of an American icon at a time when fully 30 percent of new farms in the US are woman-owned. From farm women bloggers, to back-to-the-land homesteaders and seed-savers, to rural graphic novelists and, ultimately, to the seven generations of farm daughters who have animated his own family since before the Civil War, the author travels across the region to shine new documentary light on this seedbed for American virtue, energy, and ingenuity. Packed with many memorable interviews, print artifacts, and historic images, this groundbreaking documentary history describes the centuries-long reiteration and reinterpretation of agrarian daughters in the field, over the airwaves, on the printed page, and in the court of public opinion. Offering a sweeping cultural and social history, it ranges widely and well from Jane Smiley's Pulitzer Prize-winning A Thousand Acres to Laura Ingalls Wilder's proto-feminist commentaries for the Missouri Ruralist from the critical importance of rural girls and young women to time-honored organizations such as the Farm Bureau, 4-H, and FFA to the entrepreneurial role today's female agriculturalists and sustainable farm advocates play in farmers' markets, urban farms, and community-supported agriculture. For all those whose lives have been graced by the enduring strength of this regional and national touchstone, The Midwest Farmer's Daughter offers a one-of-a-kind scholarly examination and contemporary appreciation.

Pond Ball Clintock and the Gods of Golf: A Novel for True Believers
ISBN: 1888160705

Tall Corn Books, Ice Cube Press. 2013

Some folks may say Samuel Pond Ball Clintock drew the short stick in life. He wasn't born with a Cadillac in his driveway, a Titleist in his fairway, or a caddy on his bag. He isn't one of the "in" kids at Harry S. Truman middle school. His best friend in life and partner in crime is his golf-gifted father, Chip, who s mysteriously sworn off the game, and who hasn't held a driver s license, a 9-iron, or a real job in years. Still, Sammy has reason to be happy, what with a mostly friendly goat in his back pasture, a legendary golf course in his back yard, and pond balls aplenty in his back pocket. There s one problem, though. The course he s bringing back to life, Mimosa G.C., has been shuttered and mothballed since the dark days of the Great Depression, when its infamous, cigar-smoking Scottish architect Alistair McCrackup last stalked its sand traps alongside Sammy's great-granddaddy. So when Pond Ball, his diamond-in-the-rough dad, and his best friends Daisy and A.J. begin resurrecting the abandoned lay-out during summer vacation, they can t help but stir up 18 holes worth of ghosts. Before they can holler fore! Pond Ball and company find themselves struggling to save the divine old course from the memories, heavenly and dastardly, some would prefer to see buried along with it. From pine woods so deep they re spiritual to cornfields so endless they might be eternal from 30,000 feet in the air squarely back down to the blessed turf of the magical Mimosa G.C. Pond Ball and friends prove it s not what brand of golf ball you play or what golf cart you drive that gives you soul, but whom and what you believe in.

Corn Poll: A Novel of the Iowa Caucuses
ISBN: 1888160896

Tall Corn Books, imprint Ice Cube Press, LLC. 2015

Part political satire, part earnest call for electoral reform, and one unforgettable campaign tale, Corn Poll: A Novel of the Iowa Caucuses is a story for political junkies and political cynics alike, for anyone who ever held their nose and cast a vote and everyone who ever dreamed We the People might one day stand up and demand the candidates we deserve. Not since the novel Primary Colors has the Middle American landscape yielded up such rich political fodder. Find out why Dr. Timothy Walch, Director Emeritus, Herbert Hoover Presidential Library, says 'Corn Poll is hoot and a holler for political reform.'

The Links of Evalon
ISBN: 0984508309

Sportswriters Collaborative Press. 2010

"It is not uncommon for fathers and sons to come to blows if the two love one another." So says Dr. Harlan Cragg, an ageless, cantankerous golf pro determined to probe the differences between Robert and Jack Johannes, a loving father and son grown distant. When the pair answer the doctor's summons to the Evalon Island Golf Academy, they sign on to a series of mystical tests of their essential nature, their true mettle. Storm-stayed, the duo must confront golfing angels and demons while unearthing the startling legacies of golfers before them. Soon father and son have passed every exam save one: a final round on the famed Links of Evalon destined to change their partnership forever. A timeless, richly illustrated novel for golfers young and old, The Links of Evalon is as enlightening and mysterious as the game itself.

March of the Suffragettes: Rosalie Gardiner Jones and the March for Voting Rights
ISBN: 1936976803

Zest Books. 2016

March of the Suffragettes tells the forgotten, real-life story of "General" Rosalie Gardiner Jones, who in the waning days of 1912 mustered and marched an all-women army nearly 175 miles to help win support for votes for women. General Jones, along with her good friends and accomplices "Colonel" Ida Craft, "Surgeon General" Lavinia Dock, and "War Correspondent" Jessie Hardy Stubbs, led marchers across New York state for their pilgrims' cause, encountering not just wind, fog, sleet, snow, mud, and ice along their unpaved way, but also hecklers, escaped convicts, scandal-plagued industrialists on the lam, and jealous boyfriends and overprotective mothers hoping to convince the suffragettes to abandon their dangerous project. By night Rosalie's army met and mingled with the rich and famous, attending glamorous balls in beautiful dresses to deliver fiery speeches by day they fought blisters and bone-chilling cold, debated bitter Anti-suffragists, and dodged wayward bullets and pyrotechnics meant to intimidate them. They composed and sang their own marching songs for sisterhood and solidarity on their route, even as differences among them threatened to tear them apart. March of the Suffragettes chronicles the journey of four friends across dangerous terrain in support of a timeless cause, and it offers a hopeful reminder that social change is achieved one difficult, dauntless, daring step at a time.

Wish You Were Here: Love and Longing in an American Heartland
ISBN: 1612481701

Truman State University Press. 2017

Wish You Were Here offers a clear-eyed yet tender look at life in the modern Midwest from the perspective of a seventh-generation ruralite. Championing the romance of wide-open spaces in a rapidly urbanizing world, Zachary Michael Jack challenges the stereotypes of rural and small-town midwestern life in a well-grounded and deeply felt counter-narrative of love and longing sustained in communities where young and old alike plant roots. In essays whose settings encompass the diversity of the Heartland from wooded hills to verdant croplands, from tightly knit small towns to booming suburbs Jack considers how growing up country helped shape his life and the lives of his ancestors, inviting readers to reflect on the wellspring of connections between place and personality, demographics and destiny, at work in their own lives.


  • Prentice Hall Prize for Poetry, 2000
  • Silver Medal, Foreword Review's Book of the Year Competition, 2010
  • March of the Suffragettes

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