Moses, Daniel David 1952–
Moses, Daniel David 1952–
PERSONAL: Born February 18, 1952, in Ohsweken, Ontario, Canada; son of David Nelson and Blanche Ruth Moses. Education: York University, B.A. (with honors), 1975; University of British Columbia, M.F.A., 1977.
ADDRESSES: Home—Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Email—danieldavidmoses.com.
CAREER: Poet, playwright, short story writer, and editor, c. 1980–. Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada, associate professor and Queen's national scholar, 2003–09. University of British Columbia, creative writing instructor, 1990; playwriting instructor at University of Toronto, 1992, and Brock University, 2003; Banff Center for the Arts, resident artist, 1993; writer in residence at University of Western Ontario, 1994, University of Windsor, 1994–96, McMaster University, 1999, and Concordia University, 2001–02; Theatre Passe Muraille, playwright in residence, 1996–97; Native Earth Performing Arts, Inc., member of artistic directorate, 1998–2000; Sage Hill Writing Experience, leader of playwriting laboratory, 2000; workshop participant; performs readings of his work. Committee to Re-establish the Trickster, cofounder.
MEMBER: Playwrights Canada, Writers Union of Canada, League of Canadian Poets, Writers Guild of Canada, Association for Native Development in the Performing and Visual Arts and of Native Earth (life member; past director).
AWARDS, HONORS: First prize, one-act category, Canadian National Playwriting Competition, 1990; finalist for Canadian Governor General's Award for drama, 1991; winner of one-act playwriting competition, New Play Centre, 1994; James Buller Memorial Award for Excellence in Aboriginal Theatre, Centre for Indigenous Theatre, 1996; winner of Harold Award and Harbourfront Festival Prize, both 2001; Chalmers arts fellow, 2003.
Coyote City: A Play in Two Acts, Williams-Wallace (Stratford, Ontario, Canada), 1990.
The Dreaming Beauty, Playwrights Union (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1990.
Big Buck City, Playwrights Union (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1990, 2nd edition, Exile Editions (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1998.
Belle fille de l'aurore, Playwrights Union (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1991.
Almighty Voice and His Wife: A Play in Two Acts, Williams-Wallace (Stratford, Ontario, Canada), 1992.
Kyotopolis, Playwrights Union (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1993.
City of Shadows, Playwrights Union (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1995.
The Indian Medicine Shows (two one-acts), Exile Editions (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1995.
Brebeuf's Ghost (produced as Brebeuf's Ghost: A Tale of Horror in Three Acts in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, at Duncan MacArthur Auditorium, Queen's University, 2003), Playwrights Union (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1996, 2nd edition, Exile Editions (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2000.
Coyote City and City of Shadows: Necropolotei, Imago Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2001.
Delicate Bodies (poetry), blewointment press (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 1980.
First Person Plural (poetry), Black Moss Press (Windsor, Ontario, Canada), 1988
The White Line: Poems, Fifth House Publishers (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada), 1990.
(Editor, with Terry Goldie) An Anthology of Canadian Native Literature in English (also contains Moses's play "The Witch of Niagara"), Oxford University Press (Don Mills, Ontario, Canada), 1992, 3rd edition, 2005.
Returning the Gift: Poetry and Prose from the First North American Native Writers' Festival, University of Arizona Press (Tempe, AZ), 1994.
Border Lines: Contemporary Poems in English, Copp Clark (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1995.
Sixteen Jesuses (poetry), Exile Editions (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2000.
Pursued by a Bear: Talks, Monologues, and Tales, Exile Editions (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2005.
ADAPTATIONS: Songs of Love and Medicine, two one-act plays with music by David Deleary and Chris Coleman, produced in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, at the Rotunda Theatre in 2005, was based on work by Moses. His poetry was also performed in the form of song lyrics with music by Jan Jirin in a stage piece titled The Art of Living in Prague, Czech Republic, and throughout Canada.
SIDELIGHTS: Daniel David Moses, a registered Delaware Indian who grew up on a farm on the Six Nations lands on the Grand River near Brantford, Ontario, Canada, is best known for his writings on Canadian First Nation concerns. His writings focus on the spirituality, self-identity, and human relationships of First Nations people as they adapt their traditions to the modern sociopolitical environment in which they live. While in graduate school at the University of British Columbia, Moses first gained recognition as a playwright. His writing repertoire grew to include poems and short stories, most with a focus on First Nations characters. Despite this, his popularity among mainstream theatre-goers and literary critics has grown.
Moses's first play, Coyote City: A Play in Two Acts, uses a mixture of reality and myth to tell the story of a young woman in search of her recently deceased lover. A mysterious phone call from the dead lover sends the woman on a journey back to the tavern where her lover was killed in a drunken brawl six months earlier. She is followed by a concerned sister and mother who bring with them a recovered-alcoholic-turned-Christian-preacher. Together they voyage into the world of alcoholic despair that is a result of cultural genocide, and the transformational realm of Coyote, the Trickster of traditional Native spirituality.
Almighty Voice and His Wife: A Play in Two Acts is a Brechtian retelling of an historical 'renegade Indian' incident from nineteenth-century Canada. The play transforms historical 'fact' into a love story and a minstrel show that deconstructs the institutions of performance and race. Liam Lacy of the Globe and Mail commented: "The play … takes a sharp right turn that leaves you grabbing for the door handle to hang on…. [It] startles and provokes and is a bold creative step; the construction and demolishing of a historical myth, all in one (or two) plays."
As a poet, Moses experiments with many poetic forms, from the sonnet to the looser colloquial forms. Moses established himself as a poet with his collection titled Delicate Bodies. The collection is divided into two sections, "Songs and Conversations" and "A Calendar." The first section includes poems that express the joys of ordinary things in nature and rural life, with rich images of both the scenery, wildlife, and inhabitants of the reserves. Moses blends nature with human relationships in his descriptions of the people and places that are familiar. Penny Petrone in Native Canadian Literature in Canada: From the Oral Tradition to the Present commented: "Individual in both style and thought, possessing a strikingly original sensibility and a probing intelligence, Moses is an arresting poet."
Another collection, The White Line: Poems, is divided into three sections, corresponding to the seasons of summer, fall, and winter. Each section contains an assortment of poems that reflect the properties of that season. For example, in the summer section there are poems of dandelions, bees, corn, and various images of heat. "Moses' visual imagery is striking and vivid, though not pictoral or picturesque in any normal way—having much to do with dark and light, and drawing the visual together with the tactile," wrote Maggie Helwig in Books in Canada. The most notable section, winter, contains reflections on the art of writing itself. Moses links socially conventional writing and winter in the poem "Paper," where the white space between the lines on the printed page is declared, ironically, as representative of the simplicity of the meaning of life.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Native North American Literature, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1994, pp. 449-456.
Books in Canada, May, 1991, Maggie Helwig, review of The White Line: Poems, pp. 48-50; May, 1992, review of An Anthology of Canadian Native Literature in English, pp. 43-45; April, 1998, review of The Indian Medicine Shows, pp. 35-37.
Canadian Literature, summer, 1994, Mava Jo Powell, review of The White Line, pp. 126-128.
Canadian Materials, September, 1992, review of An Anthology of Canadian Native Literature in English, p. 228.
Choice, October, 1998, T. Ware, review of An Anthology of Canadian Native Literature in English, p. 313.
Globe and Mail (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), February 15, 1992, Liam Lacy, review of Almighty Voice and His Wife: A Play in Two Acts,
World Literature Today, summer, 1998, Richard Danenhauer, review of An Anthology of Canadian Native Literature in English, pp. 663-664.