Michael Daley was born in Boston, is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts and has an MFA from the University of Washington. In 1983 he published his first collection of poetry, The Straits. His chapbooks include Angels, Original Sin, Horace: Eleven Odes, The Corn Maiden, and Rosehip Plum Cherry. His poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Hudson Review, Alaskan Quarterly Review, Raven Chronicles, Seattle Review, and on the Writer’s Almanac. In 2007 he published Way Out There: Lyrical Essays. In 2008 To Curve came out and in early 2010 Moonlight in the Redemptive Forest with a CD of poems and music arranged and performed by Brad Killion. 
For a review of Way Out There, click here.
Way Out There is available as an eBook through Kindle or Smashwords.com.

Here’s a wonderful 2012 review of Moonlight.

Moonlight in the Redemptive Forest, by Michael Daley
Pleasure Boat Studio: A Literary Press, New York, NY, 2010
$16.00, 111 pp, paper
 
Book Review by Marjorie Rommel (878 words)
 
Michael Daley’s Moonlight in the Redemptive Forest is a strongly affecting book, from its striking black and white cover art, “The Child’s Song,” by Gae Pilon, to the unexpected delights of its accompanying CD, “Frankie The Milkman’s Song & Other Poems,” composed and read by Daley, accompanied by Brad Killion on guitar. This is a keeper, a book that should be read aloud, word by word, line by line, to an audience, if possible, even if only an audience of one.
 
The patterns in this tight, strongly textured, beautifully crafted, intensely personal collection of poems are not formal, not regular in any conventional way, and readers who are bothered by this may find it easy to get lost in the tangle of shifting times, places, pronouns and tenses, a certain ambiguousness, the persistence of elusive meanings, characters who may be real (and relative), borrowed, reimagined, or flat-out fictional. But as the late Canadian poet Robin Skelton demanded of us, “Why should the novelists have all the fun?”
 
Daley’s language is, as always, intricate and thrillingly evocative, served up in a modified stream-of-consciousness style not unlike that of Eliot, Joyce, or Wolff –– a postmodernist feast for the discerning reader.
 
Nothing in these poems is absolute, except their emotional content, the passion –– and occasional humor –– with which they are told. Close attention is required to get all the juice from them, as the poet definitely tells his stories slant. Still, there is a narrative of sorts, its shifting shape much like that of the traditional shaman’s journey into darkness, transformation, and the return.
 
Among significant hinges in this collection are “The Child's Song,” so dreamlike, “On Air,” and the desperately bitter, funny/sad “The Pariah's Tale,” especially the Pariah himself, who seems to have dropped in on us like that man who fell from the moon, afflicted with global amnesia, yet able to survive by doing things that alienate him –– even more than he already is –– from the unfamiliar country and people around him, stealing fish from the gulls, dropping his pants to the neighbors.
 
The last lines of this poem are a sucker punch to the gut: "Who will love me? Who will want me now? … I have drifted so far from the map now everybody’s angry." It's the question we all ask, pretty much every day of our lives. The speaker's plaintive cry reminds me of that old man of Chaucer's, knocking on the earth, pleading, "Mother! Let me in!"

There are deep affinities, which took me a while to unravel, between “The Pariah’s Tale” and “The Second Father's Tale.” Together, they make a darker forest, a more luminous moonlight, for “The Child's Song” to shine through. “On Air,” its speaker in so many ways Daley himself, his childhood and adolescence, his drifting, and the sense of redemption at finding himself at home here in the Pacific Northwest, acts as a very long coda to “The Child's Song.”

Elusive meanings –– part of the complexity we look for in poetry –– are everywhere in Moonlight, if one pays attention and has done the necessary reading. I don't at all mind admitting Daley has sent me back to Eliot and Chaucer...maybe even to Ashbery, though I'm still thinking about him –– that perpetual sense of listening, through the wrong end of a drinking glass pressed against a motel room door, to a quiet and somehow disjointed conversation taking place in the room on the other side, frustrates me right out of my skin, and to begin with, Daley did too.

The poems in Moonlight seem almost hallucinogenic, but that's the way memory and consciousness work. Listening to the CD that accompanies the book, hearing the poet speak his poem, “Frankie the Milkman” and others, points up the humor, the despite-everything buoyancy of the cozily humdrum everyday that co-exists, in this collection, with what I can only describe as despair. I love that.
 
It’s true that to me –– surely I’m not alone –– cozies (and Hobbit Holes) often seem safer places to be than the forest, so alien to us in these latter days. But when push comes to shove, few of us seem able to resist the its wild call, though gooseflesh rising along our limbs signals our recognition of dangerous territory ahead, where no moonlight shows us the path, and total darkness threatens to steal our sense of direction, our awareness that others of our kind, and still others not entirely unlike us, are out there too, stumbling around among the roots of ancient, closely crowded trees. 

Like most of us, I have –– now and then, here and there –– made myself an at least temporary pariah. I've been lost in woods of one sort or another many times in my life, desperately afraid of never being found, never finding my way. Oh yes, I do so vividly remember crying out, "Who will love me? Who will want me now?”

In Moonlight, Daley shows us the forest is redemptive, moonlight does shine there, at least here and there, now and then –– and remade by the journey through it, we can find our way, if we persist, mind our own and the world’s past, and attend to the present, to the wild world around us. At least, I would like to think we can.
 

And for another review of Moonlight in the Redemptive Forest, click here.

See a recent article about Michael by clicking here.

    In 2001 Michael received a Fulbright grant to live in Hungary for a year. Twice the National Endowment of the Humanities has awarded his work, as has the Seattle Arts Commission, Bumbershoot, and the Fessenden Foundation. To Curve, published by Word Press of Cincinnati, was his second collection of poetry. Thanks in part to a grant from Artist Trust, his newest PBS book, Moonlight in the Redemptive Forest, contains the CD, "Frankie the Milkman & Other Poems," selections from the book, performed with guitar music written and arranged by Brad Killion.

Michael was also one of the founders of Empty Bowl Press. To read his essay, “Running on Empty,” on the history of Empty Bowl Press, please click here. 

A comment on Moonlight in the Redemptive Forest: 
“I loved the impact of random images that floated in and out of my mind as I listened.  I hope to share it with my art students.  I paint from random thoughts that jumble together in my abstract forms, I suppose that is why this poetic dialog inspired so much vivid imagery for me.” - 
           Linda Bergeron, art professor - www.lindabergeronart.com

And more: "...richly woven and many-layered, pulling together threads of history, landscape, the places (wide-reaching and intimate) that the poet has lived and worked and visited, l
literature and music and moments of deeply felt life."--Lyle Daggett, Red Zone Newsletter



The Raven Chronicles review: 

Michael Daley's poems defy parsing.  Like the Irish immigrant generations these poems bring back to life, what Daley is saying just won't be called out so readily.  No!  The door into this collection's interior opens only to reading the whole, or perhaps to listening through the accompanying CD, Frankie the Milkman's Song & Other Poems.  (Guitar backup was arranged and performed by Brad Killion.)

The collection, Moonlight In The Redemptive Forest, is actually four collections which complement and build upon one another.  "Some History" sets a stage; "Nightmares and Wet Dreams" introduces personae and their perspectives; "Wake" shows a gathering of friends and family, and the stories they keep alive; "Meat" backs away to a wider, more global view through the lens of retrospect and impersonal observations.

Read this collection, experience the lives of these people.  Stumble, stagger and rage with them through the streets of Boston's past, even into Europe in its younger times, and then back again to shiny, new America.  At the end of a reading — the third or fourth, but probably not the first — this lineage Daley chronicles becomes all of humanity in its heroics, its peccadilloes, its awestruck witnessing of love.

Be prepared, wending through this landscape of family and friends, to happen on lines, on images that will persist and persist:

					...but once,
I saw my parents on their lunch break.
Having merely opened the blouse and pants
like secret lovers, they kept laughing,
and then they whispered when they came.
They went back to work....

Daley's poems show generations and generations making their way through the grotty residues of poverty, dirty-handed labor and hard luck to celebrate the strength their love — their human-ness — brings to them.

Like any piece of fine art, Moonlight in the Redemptive Forest will not be condensed into a telling of the telling.  Go to the original and experience its entirety.  You owe it to yourself.















  

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michael daley
Michael Daley’s versatility as a poet is shown in his wonderful
translation of Lucia Gazzino’s Alter Mundus. Here’s a recent review of that work: http://www.off-the-coast.com/OTC_fall2013_reviews.html#alter