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Daniel M. McGuiness, retired professor

Retired associate professor of writing at Loyola University Maryland wrote book on 1980s poetry

By Eileen Ambrose, The Baltimore Sun

5:28 PM EST, December 2, 2012

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Daniel M. McGuiness, a retired associate professor of writing at Loyola University Maryland who influenced a younger generation of editors and writers, died Nov. 18of Parkinson's disease. He was 69.

"Dan was a born teacher because his way of teaching was to be himself in the classroom," said Thomas Scheye, an English professor at Loyola. "Many of his students followed him from class to class. They were disciples. It was extraordinary, the impact he had."

Daniel Matthew McGuiness was born in 1943 in Davenport, Iowa, the son of Mark McGuiness, a sexton at St. Mary's parish there, and Teresa McGuiness, a waitress. He attended high school and college in Davenport, graduating from Assumption High School in 1961 and four years later from St. Ambrose College, where he majored in English.

During his junior year in college in 1964, Mr. McGuiness' friends surprised him and Ilona Kuehnhackl by surreptitiously setting them up on a blind date. The two were initially unhappy with the ruse but started dating shortly thereafter, and married in February 1966, said Ilona McGuiness, who is dean of first-year students and academic services at Loyola.

Mr. McGuiness attended graduate school at the University of Iowa, but an auto accident interrupted his studies and he left school to teach in Iowa Falls at what later became Ellsworth Community College. Two years later, he was drafted into the Army and served nine months in Vietnam, his wife said.

After his discharge in March 1970, Mr. McGuiness and his wife continued their studies at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, where Mr. McGuiness received a master's degree in English.

Upon graduation, the couple returned to Iowa, where Mr. McGuiness taught English at Ellsworth for 15 years. He also received a doctorate in English from the University of Iowa in 1986, the same year the couple moved to Baltimore to teach at Loyola.

Mr. McGuiness taught writing most of his career at Loyola. He also wrote poems, literary criticism and poetry reviews. His book, "Holding Patterns: Temporary Poetics in Contemporary Poetry," about the style and structure of 1980s poetry, was published in 2001.

During his time at Loyola, Mr. McGuiness oversaw two student literary magazines and created the senior seminar that was designed to teach students to "talk about books the way writers would," said Barbara Mallonee, a professor emeritus at Loyola and the former chair of the writing department.

He had the "ability to empower his young people, to take them seriously as fledgling writers," she said.

"Dan was smart and funny," said James Buckley, a theology professor at Loyola and the school's former dean.

Mr. McGuiness, for instance, created a "Bill of Writes," 10 rules of writing that were delivered with humor, Mr. Buckley said.

"It was things like, 'Find out what irony is and use it,'" Mr. Buckley said. "It was clever, but serious. … Anyone who would use this 'Bill of Writes' would be a much better writer."

Mr. McGuiness was known for his fondness of cigars and often could be found seated outdoors on a campus bench, reading or talking to students.

"He would have a sign on his door, 'Office hours outside today. Come to the bench,'" his wife said.

Some of his students went on to become writers and editors, and acknowledged Mr. McGuiness in their published works.

"He was proud of that, as you can imagine," Mr. Buckley said.

Mr. McGuiness took a medical leave from Loyola in 2007, intending to return to the classroom and his book-lined office, but his health didn't permit it.

"The department saved that office for him for quite a few years. They were just reluctant to close it down," Mrs. Mallonee said. "It was Dan's office."

Near the end of his life, former students decorated the walls of his room at an assisted-living facility with favorite poems, pictures of themselves and testimonies of how he affected their lives, his wife said.

"I came in one day and thought it was the wrong room," she said, adding, "It was such a warm room and so beautiful."

The room also featured a tablet of poetry. Visitors were encouraged to rip off a page of poetry and read it aloud. "Even in the end … poetry mattered," Mrs. Mallonee said.

In addition to poetry and teaching, Mr. McGuiness enjoyed music, theater, collecting first-edition books and traveling to the Dingle Peninsula in western Ireland.

A funeral service was conducted in Davenport last month. A memorial service will be held in Baltimore.

Besides his wife, Mr. McGuiness is survived by a younger brother, David McGuiness of St. Paul, Minn., and four nieces and nephews.

eileen.ambrose@baltsun.com

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