Dacey and Dangel to be Remembered at Memorial Reading

Published Monday, April 17, 2017
Phil Dacey
Phil Dacey

Two beloved SMSU Emeritus Professors of English who died within the last year — Phil Dacey and Leo Dangel — will be remembered at a memorial reading of their poems from 7-8:30 p.m. Saturday, April 29, 2017 in the Conference Center Ballroom.

A number of family members, former colleagues and students will read selections of the poets’ work. Larry Gavin, SMSU Creative Writing alumnus, will serve as the Master of Ceremonies. Readers include:

Fay Dacey, Philip Dacey’s daughter
Alixa Doom, Philip’s longtime partner
Dr. Susan McLean
Dr. Jan Loft
Professor Mark Fokken
Dr. Pat Brace
Professor Marianne Zarzana
Dr. Eileen Thomas
Marcy Olson
Dana Yost
Cassandra Labairon, SMSU creative writing graduate
Lori Olivier

Professor Pete Lothringer will play a song he presented at Dangel’s SMSU retirement, one of Dangel’s poems set to music. A video clip from Dacey’s last public performance — at the Marshall Festival ’15 — will be shown, as well.

Dacey was a St. Louis native and received his education at St Louis University, Stanford University, and the University of Iowa. From 1963-66, he taught in the Peace Corps in Nigeria and at Miles College in Birmingham, Ala., before coming to Southwest Minnesota State University in 1970. During his 34 years at SMSU, Dacey directed the creative writing program and founded the Marshall Festival, a celebration of writers and writing.

Dacey began writing poetry in his 20s after dropping out of graduate school at Stanford. He wrote 13 books of poetry, and co-edited a book about contemporary American poetry.

He enjoyed his time at SMSU, once remarking, “I had the opportunity to influence students in poetry and literature. Everyone can’t be a professional writer, but I still hope the students’ time with me gave them an appreciation and openness to the arts, a new point of view toward language and what language can offer.”

Dacey passed away July 7, 2016 at his home after a battle with leukemia.

Dangel grew up on a farm near Freeman, S.D. A spinal cord injury after a car accident in the summer of 1961 left him permanently paralyzed and in need of a wheelchair. He received his Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts in English from Emporia State University, Emporia, Kan. He began teaching writing and literature at SMSU in 1968, where he remained for 25 years, retiring in 1993.

During his time at SMSU, Dangel began writing poetry. Rural Midwestern life was a favorite theme, and his poems have been published in many journals and anthologies. He has five books of poems and has won a Nebraska book award. Several of his poems were made into a play called “Old Man Brunner County.”

Dangel passed away December 13, 2016 in Yankton, S.D.

The two had an international following among poetry fans and those who admired their work are invited to this free event.

For more information, contact the SMSU English Program at 507-537-7251.