Dordt College News

Schaap essay in new Iowa book

June 20, 2007


What’s the single most important piece of advice you would share with someone growing up in Iowa?

Author James Calvin Schaap, Sioux Center, is among the high-profile Iowa residents who responded to that question, with gathered responses bound into a collection by editor Zachary Michael Jack.

Letters to a Young Iowan: Good Sense from the Good People of Iowa to Young Folks Everywhere is the resulting book, recently released by Ice Cube Press.

The book is brimming with reflections, thought-provoking advice, and observations about the state of Iowa and its residents. Interspersed throughout are nuggets like how to walk a gravel road, what you can learn from chickens, cows and pigs; and good spitting techniques.

The assortment of nearly 90 essays examine a wide range of spiritual, moral, practical, environmental, agricultural, intellectual, emotional, and artistic characteristics in Iowans, together offering a mosaic of who and what we are as a people, as communities, and as a state.

Book contributors offer a Who’s Who of the Hawkeye state, including former Governor Robert D. Ray, Dan “Mr. Science” Coffey, University of Iowa wrestling coach legend Dan Gable, “The Iowa Traveler” Cary J. Hahn, former U.S. Representative Jim Leach, former Lieutenant Governor Sally Pederson, former Iowa First Lady Christy Vilsack, and many more.

Editor Zachary Jack says he sought out contributors who would represent the whole range of people and ideas in Iowa. The occupations of the contributors run the gamut from farmers, small business owners, park rangers, artists, professional athletes, engineers, factory technicians, museum directors, lawyers, nuns, and others.

Schaap is one of several authors who contributed to the book, including Mary Swander, St. Olaf College’s writer-in-residence Jim Heynen, former U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser, former Iowa Poet Laureate Marvin Bell, and the editor, Zachary Jack, who grew up on a family century farm near Mechanicsville, Iowa, and is currently a writer and professor at North Central College in Illinois.

Schaap has been teaching literature and writing at Dordt College in Sioux Center for 30 years. He has authored the novels Romey’s Place, The Secrets of Barneveld Calvary, Home Free, In the Silence there are Ghosts, and Touches the Sky. Other books include Startling Joy: Seven Magical Stories of Christmas, a collection of short fiction, Paternity (stories about fathers and their children) and Fifty-five and Counting: Essays and Stories.

Letters to a Young Iowan was published by Ice Cube Press, and is available from bookstores, web-based book outlets, and locally at the Dordt College Bookstore.

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