Queen's Gazette | Queen's University

Search form

Queen’s remembers Professor Emeritus Daniel David Moses

Award-winning playwright and poet arrived at Queen's in 2003 as a Queen's National Scholar.

Daniel David Moses
Professor Emeritus Daniel David Moses, an award-winning playwright and poet, died Monday, July 13. He was 68.

The Queen’s community is remembering Indigenous playwright and Professor Emeritus Daniel David Moses who died Monday, July 13. He was 68.

A Delaware from Six Nations of the Grand River, Moses arrived at the university as a Queen’s National Scholar in 2003 in the Department of Drama, currently the Dan School of Drama and Music. In 2016 he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and in 2019 was appointed professor emeritus.

“Queen’s University and the broader Indigenous arts community have suffered a great loss,” says Kanonhsyonne Janice Hill, Associate Vice-Principal (Indigenous Initiatives and Reconciliation), Office of Indigenous Initiatives. “Daniel was brilliant and world renowned for his work. He will be remembered as a wonderful role model and an inspiration to up and coming Indigenous playwrights and poets.”

Along with being an award-winning playwright and poet, Moses also was a highly-respected dramaturge, editor, essayist, teacher, and writer-in-residence with institutions across the country. His plays include Coyote City, a 1991 Governor General’s Literary Award nominee, The Indian Medicine Shows, the 1996 James Buller Memorial Award winner, his best-known play Almighty Voice and His Wife, considered to be a classic work, that was recently performed by Toronto-based Soulpepper Theatre in fall 2019, as well as Brebeuf’s Ghost and Songs of Love and Medicine. His poetry collections are in book form at Delicate Bodies, The White Line, Sixteen Jesuses and a CD, River Range, Poems with original music by David DeLeary. A Small Essay on the Largeness of Light and Other Poems was published in 2012. His essays are collected in Pursued by a Bear: Talks, Monologues and Tales.

“Daniel was certainly one of the stars of the Dan School.  He was celebrated for his writing all over the world,” says Craig Walker, Director, Dan School of Drama and Music. “But, for such an enormously accomplished man with such an out-sized reputation, at a first meeting he struck most people as extraordinarily quiet and modest. I found, however, that once we became friends, in private he could be quite talkative and often very funny. It became clear in those times that he always listened intently to what other people said: he captured not only what they said, but often their unspoken, and even their unconscious meaning. I think that this was part of his great gift as a writer: the way he captured the nuances and music of the speaking voice in his poetry and plays. Daniel sometimes said of his writing that he was determined to come up with ‘language that could be spoken by the body entire,’ which is as fine a description of the actor’s relationship to words as I have ever encountered. He made a vital contribution to the expertise and the reputation of drama at Queen’s, and he will be sorely missed.”

Moses most recently served as a member of the Advisory Board of Oskana Poetry and Poetics book series of the University of Regina Press, as well as on the boards of the Association for Native Development in the Performing and Visual Arts, Native Earth Performing Arts and the Playwrights Union of Canada (now the Playwrights Guild of Canada), and co-founded with Lenore Keeshig-Tobias and Tomson Highway the influential Committee to Re-Establish the Trickster.

Faculty and staff in need of support can also access the Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP), provided by Homewood Health, by visiting the Queen’s HR website. For 24-hour EFAP services call 1-800-663-1142 (English) or 1-866-398-9505 (French).