'Apology to the Moon' Is Latest Poetry Collection by Jim Daniels
As a writer, Carnegie Mellon University’s Jim Daniels frequently draws on his life for inspiration, capturing working-class urban life and struggles with race and discrimination.
For his 15th poetry book, “Apology to the Moon,” Daniels again used self-reflection as well as his involvement in a unique endeavor with the Moon Arts Group Collaborative. The collaborative is a group of CMU students, faculty and alumni working alongside independent artists and professionals through the College of Fine Arts’ Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry to create a gift representing all of the arts and humanities. The “Moon Arts Ark” contains art, poetry and music. In 2016, the ark will be delivered to the moon by a CMU Robotics Institute rover competing in Google’s Lunar X Prize.
“My role in the project was to find poems about the moon to send to the moon. It was fascinating to notice how many poems about the moon there are out there,” said Daniels, the Thomas Stockham Baker University Professor of English in the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences.
“The moon has been a constant throughout our history, while life on earth continues to change, so, as a result, how we see the moon in poetry has changed. The project also got me to reflect on how often the moon has showed up in my own poems, which I was thinking about when I put together ‘Apology to the Moon,’” he said.
“Apology to the Moon” contains 23 poems that detail the life of a man from his college days to fatherhood. It is published by BatCat Press, which is supported by the Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School and specializes in handmade limited editions of new works. Only 100 copies of “Apology to the Moon” were created.
BatCat Press noted that when determining the book’s design, they wanted to represent “the cyclical nature of the struggles the man goes through and the moon/space imagery used throughout.” They settled on using the constellation of Hercules, pierced through the cover, because the demigod faced many hardships and trials.
“The book design is beautiful and amazing. A lot of thought and work went into making the book,” Daniels said. “The design creates this warmth and intimacy, and also this sense of the larger unknown of space.”
Daniels work often crosses genres. He has written five collections of short stories, most recently 2014’s “Eight Mile High.” His 14th poetry book, "Birth Marks," was named to the 2014 Michigan Notable Books List and won the 2014 Independent Publisher Book (IPPY) Awards' Poetry Gold Medal and the 2014 Binghamton University Milt Kessler Poetry Book Award. He has written four films, including “The End of Blessings,” which was just completed in July, and 2010's "Mr. Pleasant," which appeared in more than a dozen film festivals across the country.
Daniels has won the Brittingham Prize for Poetry, the Blue Lynx Poetry Prize, the Tillie Olsen Prize and two fellowships from both the National Endowment for the Arts and Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. His poetry has appeared in the Pushcart Prize anthology "Best American Poetry," Billy Collins' "Poetry 180" and Ted Kooser's "American Life in Poetry" series. His poem "Factory Love" was reproduced on the roof of a racecar.
By Shilo Rea