Carnegie Mellon University
January 02, 2014

Press Release: 2014 Michigan Notable Books Includes "Birth Marks," By Carnegie Mellon's Jim Daniels

Contact: Shilo Rea / 412-268-6094 /

BirthmarksPITTSBURGH-The Library of Michigan announced that "Birth Marks," a collection of poetry by Carnegie Mellon University English Professor Jim Daniels, has been named to the 2014 Michigan Notable Books list. The annual list features 20 books published in the previous calendar year that are about Michigan or the Great Lakes region, or are written by a Michigan author. Daniels was born and raised in Detroit.

"The Michigan Notable Books Program helps to show what is 'great' about the Great Lakes State," said State Librarian Nancy Robertson. "It helps to tell Michigan's complete story through the voices of talented historians, creative writers, illustrators, essayists and poets. These creative voices are all around us in our communities. We just need to take a little time to find them and to recognize their value. Reading is more important than ever. This list helps to steer people to the 'good stuff.'"

Growing up as the son and grandson of autoworkers in Detroit left an imprint on Daniels. In "Birth Marks," he captures the gritty culture of working-class urban life. He uses the 39 poems to take readers on a tour of post-industrial Detroit and Pittsburgh to tell the tales of cities and their residents who came out swinging when the economy collapsed around them.

"I have always been interested in ordinary people in ordinary circumstances and the small moments in their lives that create a subtle shift in perspective," said Daniels, the Thomas Stockham Baker Professor of English in CMU's Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences. "Place has consistently been a big part of my work, and it is again. I hope the title 'Birth Marks' reflects this - we are marked by the places we come from. I try to bring these cities and people to life in a way that may make readers see beneath our cultural stereotypes."

Published by BOA Editions, Ltd., "Birth Marks" focuses on how the urban landscape affects its residents as they struggle to establish a community on streets that can easily be tainted by distrust and the threat of random violence. Topics range from parenting and addiction to baseball and music, and Daniels uses longer poems with more juxtaposition to tell sharp stories about difficult situations.

"Birth Marks" is Daniels' 14th collection of poetry, and his work frequently crosses different genres. He has published four books of short stories and has written three films, including 2010's "Mr. Pleasant," which appeared in more than a dozen film festivals across the country.

His previous poetry collection, "Having a Little Talk with Capital P Poetry," won the Independent Publisher Book Awards 2012 Gold Medal for Poetry and the 2012 Paterson Award for Literacy Excellence from the Paterson Poetry Center. "Trigger Man: More Tales of the Motor City," his most recent book of short stories, was the 2012 winner of the Midwest Book Awards in the Short Story category.

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.

Daniels also wrote the introduction for another notable book on the 2014 list; "Poetry Poetry," edited by William Olsen and Jack Ridl, contains poems from Michigan's most recognized poets and explores the variances in the state's landscape, shoreline and lives lived in the city, town and countryside.

Watch a video of Daniels reading seven poems from "Birth Marks" at

For more information about "Birth Marks" or to purchase a copy, visit

To view the complete list of the 2014 Michigan Notable Books, visit