(3.16.17) By Lindsey Smith – On Thursday night in Charles City on the Morningside College Campus, author Jim Daniels read selected poems from his many published works.
Self-titled his “life’s highlights,” the poems covered a variety of topics from his childhood including family secrets, suicide, Daniels’ mother, teenage firsts, and working at a fast food restaurant. He also talked about moments from his adult life, including his life as a teacher and a parent.
Through one of his poems entitled “Red Vinyl,” Daniels recounts the days spent in his high school English class, where none of the poetry or books they read seemed to connect. He calls them “the crossword puzzle, where the point is to figure out what the poem means, not feel anything.” This is what inspired Daniels to write his own works, as he says, “The people and things I cared about weren’t showing up in my reading.”
Students who attended the poetry reading had only praise for Daniels.
Elizabeth Roop, a freshman, said, “I liked all the poems but I especially liked the ones about his kids. They were really sweet and inspiring.”
Senior Ashley Stagner had to read Daniels’ latest book for her Advanced Poetry class.
She says, “It’s interesting to see how the author puts inflection into their own work. To be a poet and get out there where you’re so vulnerable is hard.”
Roop then added, “Being able to hear them (the author) adds a new layer of life to it.”
Daniels grew up in Detroit, Michigan in an environment where most kids didn’t plan on attending any form of higher education. Most high school graduates worked in one of the three major car manufacturing plants found in Detroit. Now, Daniels is the author of three books of poetry and one book of stories. His newest work is entitled Rowing Inland. Daniels also wrote and produced several short films and is the Thomas Stockham Baker University Professor at Carnegie Melon University.