Yvonne Daley, educator, journalist, author and poet, was the commencement speaker at the College of St. Joseph commencement ceremony on May 18, 2019
Daley has published six nonfiction books, more than 5000 works of journalism, fiction and non-fiction and has contributed to National Public Radio. She has written extensively for the Rutland Herald, Boston Globe, Time, People, Life, the San Jose Mercury News and the Washington Post. Her awards have included Vermont Reporter of the Year, the New England News Editors’ Master Reporter Award and the John S. Knight Fellowship in Journalism at Stanford University. Daley is the founder and director of the Green Mountain Writer Conference and founder and publisher of Verdant Books, a writers’ collaborative.
More recently, Daley divided her time between Vermont and San Francisco for 17 years, teaching journalism at San Francisco State University while occasionally teaching locally, including at the College of St Joseph. She also has an alumni connection to CSJ. Her daughter Shanti McKenna received her Masters in Education degree from CSJ.
Daley grew up in Medford and Melrose, Massachusetts, where she attended Catholic church and schools, including Merrimack College, Cardinal Cushing College and Boston College, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in English, Philosophy and Religion from Barry University. She did her graduate work at the University of Dayton in Philosophy and, more recently, earned her MFA in Writing at Vermont College.
In her own words, Daley says, “Like so many of my generation, born at the end of World War II, I had missed the deprivation, rationing and closeness to the casualties of war that defined my older siblings’ childhood. Until my mid-teens, life was defined by Catholic school and church, an Irish/Italian neighborhood, the comfort of the middle class in the suburbs of Boston. Out there, somewhere, there were beatniks, un-American activities trials, racism, and deep misogyny, the Cold War and its fanaticisms, all of which I was fairly unaware of in the insulation of family, church, school, and neighborhood. And then, seemingly overnight, the world changed.”
Daley writes about that changing world in her most recent book, “Going Up the Country: When the Hippies, Dreamers, Freaks and Radicals Moved to Vermont,” the story of how young Northeastern migrants, turned their backs on the establishment of the 1950s and moved to the back woods of rural Vermont spawning a revolution in lifestyle, politics, sexuality, and business practices that would have a profound impact on the state and the rest of the nation, published by University Press of New England (UPNE). UPNE also published Daley’s anthology “Vermont Writers: A State of Mind.”
Daley’s publishing venture, Verdant, published two of her books; “The Bend in the Road: The Lenny Burke Story,” chronicling the life-changing brain injury sustained by a young Vermont athlete and scholar, his near-death experience and eventual recovery, and the lessons learned about the brain’s ability to heal; and “Octavia Boulevard,” a neighborhood memoir that explores the clash between progressive politics and capitalism, the legacy of the counterculture, and the idiosyncrasies, both good and bad, of San Francisco. The Rutland Herald and Northshire Books published her “A Mighty Storm: Stories of Resilience After Irene,” an account of how Vermonters rebuilt their state after Tropical Storm Irene while Simon and Schuster published “An Independent Mind: Adventures of a Public Servant”, Jim Jeffords autobiography, which Daley coauthored with Jeffords and Howard Coffin.
Daley’s writing concentrates on issues at the heart of what it is to be living on this beautiful planet: the environment, creativity, human rights, community, war and peace, resilience and healing. These subjects are always in context with the human story as Daley employs real people’s stories to illustrate the larger topics she explores in her writing.
At the heart of all of Daley’s writing and ventures is compassion. She started the Green Mountain Writers Conference with her husband, writer Chuck Clarino, after witnessing young writers losing confidence after hearing ill-expressed criticism. The GMWC promises that writers are, “critiqued in ways that are helpful rather than hurtful.” As one of her former students, Poh Si Teng, who works for the New York Times, said about Daley when talking to Xpress Magazine, “Apart from all the fearlessness that (Yvonne) projected, speaking to her, you could feel she was very kind and compassionate. That’s so important for a young journalist to learn-be fearless, but be kind as well.”
Daley has recently returned to her old love of writing poetry and has published poetry on the online magazine Poets Reading the News and other literary publications.