Carnegie Mellon University

STATEMENT from the Creative Writing Program and English Department Head:

Over the summer, current and former Carnegie Mellon University students brought to our attention the poem “Time, Temperature,” written by Professor Jim Daniels in 1993.  

There were discussions on social media about the repeated use of a racial epithet in the poem, and about whether the poem failed to transcend the racism with which it attempted to reckon.

We’ve had other conversations about the poem as well—within the Creative Writing Program and English Department and with our students. We acknowledge the hurt this poem has caused CMU students, faculty, and staff, as well as the larger community. Professor Jim Daniels has acknowledged the same and has apologized; his own statement is available here.

As a creative writing program and an English department, we strive to provide a safe space for freedom of expression, but also to evaluate the merit and effects of expression, to parse the line between intent and impact, and to facilitate critical discourse about creative work. We also seek to ensure that people of color, who have historically experienced - and continue to experience - oppression and violence, feel heard and supported through tangible avenues of redress. We publicly reaffirm our commitment to the concrete and necessary actions of examining and dismantling any racist tendencies within our Creative Writing Program and English Department; we reassure our students that we are devoted to fostering the sort of open and continuing dialogue and self-assessment that is necessary to make CMU an equitable and welcoming place. 

 - Creative Writing Program Faculty
 - Andreea Ritivoi, Professor and Head