A native Iowan’s new book is a collection of wisdom solicited from many of Iowa’s movers and shakers. "Letters to a Young Iowan" is subtitled "Good Sense from the Good Folks of Iowa for Young People Everywhere."
Zachary Michael Jack, a writer and professor at North Central College in Illinois, was born and raised near Oxford Junction. "I grew up feeling really blessed to live in Iowa," Jack says, "and it’s not just some sort of blind allegiance or patriotism here, but …a kind of dawning sense that I felt as I grew up of a kind of rare pride."
Jack comes from a longtime farming family, and says his pride in being an Iowan has intensified as he grew older, rather than lessened. He describes this collection of essays as "personal letters to strangers."
He asked each contributor to imagine a particular Iowa person they were writing to — and many pictured writing to a friend, grandchild, nephew, student, or an athlete, if they were a coach.
Jack says he sought out contributors who would represent the whole range of people and ideas in Iowa. He approached the widest population of Iowans, from Christie Vilsack to Robert Ray, Dan Gable, Jim Leach and author Mary Swander as well as extension agents, teachers, and some people never published before. He says their letters of advice to young Iowans run the gamut and represent views from all parts of the state. A fourth-generation farmer’s son, Jack edited an earlier collection of writing by farmer-writer-teachers titled "Black Earth and Ivory Tower." This collection is published by Ice Cube Press , based in North Liberty, Iowa.