Tobin, Daniel 1958- (Daniel E. Tobin)

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Tobin, Daniel 1958- (Daniel E. Tobin)


Born January 13, 1958, in Brooklyn, NY; son of Gerard (a marine insurance claims adjuster) and Helen (a bank clerk) Tobin; married Christine Casson (a writer and teacher). Ethnicity: "Irish American." Education: Iona College, B.A. (summa cum laude), 1980; Harvard University, M.T. S., 1983; Warren Wilson College, M.F.A., 1990; University of Virginia, Ph.D., 1991. Politics: Democrat. Religion: Roman Catholic.


Home—Dorchester, MA. Office—Department of Writing, Literature, and Publishing, Emerson College, 120 Boylston St., Boston, MA 02116. E-mail—[email protected]


Carthage College, Kenosha, WI, member of English faculty, 1991-2002, department chair, 2001-02; Emerson College, Boston, MA, faculty member and chair of department of writing, literature, and publishing, 2002—. Poet; gives readings from his works and from the work of Irish poets; member of advisory board, New England Poetry Club, Friends of Writers (New York, NY), and Arlington Center for the Arts (Arlington, MA).


Modern Language Association of America, Academy of American Poets, American Association of Literary Scholars, American Conference for Irish Studies, Associated Writing Programs.


Rotary International fellow, National University of Ireland, University College, Dublin, 1988-89; Discovery/Nation Award, Unterberg Poetry Center, 1995; Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, Bread Loaf scholar, 1995, Robert Frost fellow, 1999; creative writing fellow, National Endowment for the Arts, 1996; International Merit Award, Atlanta Review, 1996; Ali Dor-Ner fellow in poetry, Friends of Writers, 1997; poetry fellow, Vermont Studio Center, 1998; Katherine Bakeless Nason Prize in Poetry, University Press of New England, 1998, for Where the World Is Made; research award, Irish American Cultural Institute, 1999; Poetry Prize, Greensboro Review, 2000; Donn Goodwin Poetry Prize, Irish American Post, 2000; Robert Penn Warren Award, Cumberland Poetry Review, 2002.



Where the World Is Made, University Press of New England (Hanover, NH), 1999.

Double Life, Louisiana State University Press (Baton Rouge, LA), 2004.

The Narrows, Four Way Books (New York, NY), 2005.


Passage to the Center: Imagination and the Sacred in the Poetry of Seamus Heaney, University of Kentucky Press (Lexington, KY), 1999.

(Editor and contributor) The Book of Irish American Poetry from the Eighteenth Century to the Present, University of Notre Dame Press (Notre Dame, IN), 2007.

(Editor) Light in Hand: Selected Early Poems of Lola Ridge, Quale Press (Florence, MA), 2007.

(Editor, with Pimone Triplett) Poet's Work, Poet's Play: Essays on the Practice and the Art, University of Michigan Press (Ann Arbor, MI), 2007.

Work represented in anthologies, including Complexities of Motion: The Longer Poems of A.R. Ammons, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press (Madison, NJ), 1999; The Bread Loaf Anthology of New American Poets, University Press of New England (Hanover, NH), 2000; Well Dreams: Essays on the Poetry of John Montague, Creighton University Press (Omaha, NE), 2003; Never Before: Poems about First Experiences, Four Ways Books (New York, NY), 2005; Rhymes for Adults, Virginia Reels Press (Somerville, MA), 2006; Broken Land: Poems of Brooklyn, New York University Press (New York, NY), 2007; Poetry Daily Essentials 2007, Sourcebooks, 2007; and Third Rail: The Poetry of Rock and Roll, Pocket Books, 2007. Contributor of articles, poetry, and reviews to dozens of journals, including Irish Pages: Journal of Contemporary Writing, New Hibernia Review, Wallace Stevens Journal, Sewanee Review, Sou'wester, Ploughshares, Agni, Harvard Review, Hudson Review, Image, Times Literary Supplement, Southwest Review, Southern Review, and Poetry East.


Daniel Tobin told CA: "It almost goes without saying that what is left out of a poem in the process of composition is nearly as important as what remains when the poem is finished, or at least finished enough to be abandoned into the world beyond the poet's notebook and computer drive. From one of my poems, ‘The Sea of Time and Space,’ I cut the following line, rather late in the process: ‘creation hieratic in its web of incarnation.’ I did so largely because it sounded portentous but also because it said too much. The poem's embodiment of its details both rhythmically and visually ought to bring the reader to some felt intimation of the poet's concern more than any theological or thematic declaration. After all, such declarations speak more to sources in personal experience and sensibility than to a poem's success in making them available to others as matters of compelling dramatic interest rather than as beliefs the reader denies or to which the reader gives assent.

"Yet, if a poet has pursued the leads language, experience, and the art have afforded, and brought the fullest possible measure of intelligence and emotion to bear on the making of the poem, then something may become clarified out of the nexus of what Yeats called ‘accidence’—the heart's foul rag and bone shop—and brought to form beyond their origins in personal history or some wider historical circumstance. I admire poems that take seriously so high-minded a sense of the art, but which also ground themselves in the tangible world. Yeats's own poems have that virtue, despite their at times esoteric ‘triggering subjects,’ and have the further virtue of being eclectic in their formal embodiments, another ideal I aspire to as a poet.

"I also think of a poem like Elizabeth Bishop's ‘At the Fishhouses,’ so patient in its portrayal of the physical scene that its very physicality transports the reader almost imperceptibly to a plane of existence at once ‘above the world’ and so fired with gravitas that it could make a hand ache. Water is at once water and an ‘element bearable to no mortal.’ Bishop's ‘gloaming invisible’ has become embodied, just as the already embodied world has become transfigured into the poem by the poet's remarkable selection of detail, her shaping intelligence, the subtle rhythm and cadence of her lines, the rich sonic textures, and perhaps above all her indomitable felt regard for the world and out limited attempts at knowing it.

"Such compassion refuses what might be understood as a latter-day Gnostic impulse to deny the world's embodiment in poems by passing off obscurity as sophistication and wit, cold irony as edginess; and refuses also the temptation of being merely accessible—as if knowledge beyond the personal had no place in a poem. I prefer to either extreme the truly liminal space of Bishop's equinoctial shore, at once serious and playful, and mindful of something just beyond our ability to say, but for which we long to find adequate speech, embodiment—the world standing invisibly behind the poem, the poem embodying in its own transfiguring terms both the loved world and the poet's desire to transcend that world."



Daniel Tobin Home Page, (March 2, 2007).