John Daniel: A Good Animal Too - Profile from High Country News. Click here to read
Click here to read "A Conversation With John Daniel"
Born in South Carolina and raised in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., John Daniel has lived in the West since 1966. After attending and dropping out of Reed College in Portland, Oregon, he worked as a logger, railroad inspector, rock climbing instructor, hod carrier, and poet-in-the-schools. He began to write poetry and prose in the 1970s while living on a ranch in south-central Oregon. In 1982 he received a Wallace Stegner Fellowship in Poetry at Stanford University, where he then took an M.A. in English/Creative Writing and taught five years as a Jones Lecturer in Poetry and a lecturer in Freshman English. He now makes his living as a writer and itinerant teacher in workshops and writer-in-residence positions around the country.
Daniel’s newest book, The Far Corner: Northwestern Views on Land, Life, and Literature, was published in April 2009 (paperback May 2010) by Counterpoint and won the 2011 Oregon Book Award in Creative Nonfiction from Literary Arts. This collection of personal essays casts an eye on various subjects in the human and more-than-human worlds—from old-growth forest to death and dying, from the joys of life on the move to the satisfactions of putting down roots—spinning narratives that seek to define Daniel’s allegiances to his home places and region and the wholeness of life itself. This book extends the work in the essay form that he collected in The Trail Home, published in 1992 by Pantheon Books and winner of the 1993 Oregon Book Award for Literary Nonfiction.
Rogue River Journal: A Winter Alone was published by Shoemaker & Hoard (now Counterpoint) in May 2005. This volume, a blend of three nonfiction narratives, is an account of a four-and-a-half-month experiment in solitude in a remote Rogue River cabin, and is also a memoir of Daniel’s father’s life and career in the American labor movement and of his own growing up and coming of age in the 1960s. Rogue River Journal was awarded a 2006 Book Award by the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association.
Looking After: A Son’s Memoir, about caring for his mother in the last years of her life as she declined with Alzheimer’s, was published in 1996 by Counterpoint and won the 1997 Oregon Book Award for Literary Nonfiction. Oregon Rivers (Westcliffe Publishers), a collaboration with photographer Larry N. Olson, appeared in 1997, and Winter Creek: One Writer’s Natural History came out in the Credo Series from Milkweed Editions in 2002.
Daniel is the author of two poetry collections, Common Ground (Confluence Press, 1988) and All Things Touched by Wind (Salmon Run Press, 1994). Common Ground was an Oregon Book Award finalist in 1989. His poems have appeared in Poetry, The Southern Review, North American Review, Sierra, Poetry of the American West, The Pushcart Prize VIII, and other magazines and anthologies. He has been poetry editor of Wilderness magazine since 1988. In 1998 he compiled and edited Wild Song: Poems of the Natural World (University of Georgia Press), a collection of verse first published in Wilderness. A commissioned poem (untitled) appears as a 270-foot frieze in the interior of Fern Ridge Library in Veneta, Oregon.
Of Earth: New and Selected Poems, 1978-2011 is complete in manuscript. A first novel, working title Gifted, is in progress.
Daniel contributes essays and articles to magazines and literary journals such as Audubon, Outside, Southwest Review, Western American Literature, Portland, Open Spaces, and Oregon Humanities. His prose has appeared in many anthologies, including Writing the Journey: Essays, Poems, and Stories on Travel; Facing the Lion: Writers on Life & Craft; the American Nature Writing volumes for 1995 and 1998; and The Norton Book of Nature Writing.
A 1996 James T. Thurber Writer-in-Residence at Ohio State University, Daniel has also taught at Sweet Briar College, Austin Peay State University, Lewis & Clark College, Portland State University, Oregon State University, and elsewhere. In the fall of 2005 he was Distinguished Writer-in-Residence in the MFA program of St. Mary’s College of California. In 2003-04, 2004-05, and spring 2006 he was Viebranz Visiting Professor of Creative Writing at St. Lawrence University in northern New York State.
Daniel has won a Pushcart Prize (1983), the Margery Davis Boyden Wilderness Writing Residency (1994), the Andres Berger Award for Creative Nonfiction (1994), and the John Burroughs Nature Essay Award (1995). For the 1997-98 academic year he was a Research and Writing Fellow at Oregon State University’s Center for the Humanities, and in 1998-99 he held a Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Daniel is chair of PEN Northwest, a regional branch of the writers’ organization PEN American Center, and in that role administers the annual Margery Davis Boyden Wilderness Writing Residency in the Rogue River canyon. He serves on the judging panel for the John Burroughs Association’s annual Nature Essay Award and is a member of the board of directors of Literary Arts, a private nonprofit that seeks to enrich the lives of Oregonians through language and literature. He lives with his wife, Marilyn Daniel, plus two cats, a dog, and usually a pack rat, in the Coast Range foothills west of Eugene, Oregon.