David Treadway Manning was born in Santa Monica California in 1928. His mother taught him to read from the science section of “The Books of Knowledge” and his poet/scholar grandfather introduced him to the constellations in the winter sky. A series of home chemistry labs then set him on his career track. After graduating from Montebello High School, he enrolled in John Muir Junior College and two years later transferred to The California Institute of Technology, where he majored in organic chemistry. His time at John Muir, named for the great naturalist, is a reminder of David’s love for the high Sierras and southwestern deserts, a frequent theme in his writing.
After graduating from Caltech, David entered its graduate chemistry program,
during which he attended a course in contemporary poetry under the late Hallett Smith which proved to be a life-changing experience and he soon began writing poems. A concurrent interest in singing, arising from his grandmother’s Victrola opera records, led to the study of voice, with private tutelage, which has continued to the present.
David received his Ph.D. from Caltech in 1954. In that year he was hired by Union Carbide, the company for which he worked as a research chemist for most of his career, forty-four years, beginning his work life in Charleston, West Virginia. There he met his wife, Doris, as they performed with the Light Opera Guild, and continued as a serious writer of poetry. They have two daughters and four grandchildren.
In 1981, David was transferred to Cary, North Carolina where he became active in the North Carolina Poetry Society, serving on its board in various roles, including critiquing poems submitted by new members. In 2004, his service to the Poetry Society was recognized by receiving the dedication of that year’s issue of Pinesong, the annual collection of the Society’s award-winning poems. He is a board member of the Poetry Council of North Carolina and the current leader of the Friday Noon Poets of Chapel Hill, with whom he has read his work on Public Television of Chapel Hill.
David was twice winner of the North Carolina Poetry Society’s Poet Laureate award, in 1996 and 1998, as well as many other contest awards with that Society, with the Poetry Council of North Carolina, and the Poetry Society of Virginia. He was the featured reader at the Blue Heron Poetry Series in 1999 and an invited reader at the Carrboro Poetry Festival in 2004. A Pushcart nominee, his poems have appeared in Asheville Poetry Review, Chattahoochee Review, Christian Century, Cold Mountain Review, Comstock Review, Crucible, Free Lunch, Iodine Poetry Journal, Main Street Rag, Mankato Poetry Review, New Orleans Review, Pembroke Magazine, Potato Eyes, Rattle, Southern Poetry Review, The Village Rambler and other publications. He has four chapbook collections; Negotiating Physics and Other Poems (1999) and Poets Anonymous (2001), both published by Old Mountain Press in North Carolina, Out After Dark (2003), published by Pudding House, and The Ice-Carver, published by Longleaf Press and winner of the Longleaf Chapbook competition in 2004.
Apart from writing, David has continued as a singer, frequently a tenor soloist, in choral societies and church choirs. Since retiring from industry in 1998 he maintains contact with the science community as a member of TASC (Teachers and Scientists Collaborating), sponsored by the Burroughs-Wellcome Foundation, in an effort to improve the teaching of the sciences in grades K-12. The themes of the outdoors, science, religion, philosophy and music appear frequently in his poems.