Research Scholar



In her own words...thoughts on writing

 " I’ve particularly enjoyed the writing opportunities that found me.  I was asked to write the script for “Choices,” a Hospice video production about death that won a Telly Awards Bronze Medal.  That led to co-authoring a self-help book on loss and grieving and writing the novel that had been floating around in my head for twenty years, which led to a sequence novel. Ultimately I found my way back to what I love most: writing non-fiction chronicles of other people’s lives and telling other people’s stories…Often it feels as though these stories are just floating out there in space looking for someone to tell them – until eventually they find me...and most recently this has included WE RISE TO RESIST:VOICES FROM A NEW ERA IN WOMEN'S POLITICAL ACTION.   This turned out to be one of the hardest, most intense writing projects I've ever undertaken - and all indications are that it will be the most rewarding!" 

On Poverty Research:

"I feel strongly that those of us who are born luckier than others owe something to the less fortunate, which led me to using a very good education and writing ability to research and write about a very stubborn and difficult social condition.  I didn’t realistically expect to solve the poverty problem but it was discouraging to finally realize, after 25 years of trying, that poverty really is not fixable and the “War on Poverty” isn’t winnable .…nevertheless, I seem to need to keep writing about it anyway. Working on Women and Poverty in 21st Century America was deeply rewarding because it says lot of things about the plight of poor women that really need saying.  The poor women I interviewed wrote it – I just showed up and listened to them tell their stories. I could not have helped these women give voice to their lives while I was still an active academic because writing their truths would’ve risked jeopardizing my research funding.  Almost immediately the book won two major literary awards – and I was very pleased the topic received that level of attention, b/c the women deserve it. Hard Living in America’s Heartland: Rural Poverty in the 21st Century Midwest was a great book to work on because it forced me to look at poverty a different way and to point out the remarkable strength, tenacity, and enviable common sense the rural poor possess – qualities I’ve never been forced to acquire, and truly envy."

On What’s Next:



Essays on the women's political resistance movement forthcoming from McFarland Publishers in early 2018.  Go to to visit the book website, to to visit the Facebook page.  Go to to see what I have to say about the current social welfare and public policy trends. 

On the Writing Life:

"Many serious writers live apart from the world in order to maintain uncluttered psychic space to write, and I’m no exception.  I’m very protective of my time, and crave stability, simplicity and quiet, which lots of people I know think is a crazy way to live.  It works well because my husband is also a writer and craves quiet too. Most of the time we don’t even answer the telephone! I garden in summer and knit all year round – and get a lot of things figured out while pulling weeds and winding  yarn.  

I’m never not writing something, so I guess I’m leading a writer’s life...and I've been fortunate enough to win a few awards for doing it!"  Winner of the 2012 and 2016 Council for Wisconsin Writers Non-fiction Book of the Year  Awards, 2012 Independent Publishers Book Award, 2015 Pinnacle Book Award, and 2018 International Book Awards for Anthology, Social Change and a Finalist in Women's Issues category.  

     PAULA DÁIL has authored more than 250 scholarly works, mostly on aspects of poverty.  She was founding director of the Center for the Study of Poverty at Virginia Tech and, as a research professor of social welfare and public policy, directed the Child Welfare and Homelessness Research Projects at Iowa State University.  During her career she successfully procured more than $6 million in research funding by writing what reviewers often labeled “poetic social science research” proposals. She has served on the editorial review boards of several professional academic publications and her scholarship earned her a publication award from the Groves Conference, early tenure from Virginia Tech, and a graduate faculty teaching award from Iowa State University.  

     Her first publication was a letter to the editor of the San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper when she was seven years old.  She stated the case for using the newspaper's annual Christmas fund to purchase shoes for the children of poor Hispanic migrant workers.  The letter appeared on the front page of the Sunday edition.

     Her first literary award was for the Best Poem in the 6th grade poetry contest at the Academy of Our Lady of Peace.  This was the last poem she ever wrote. 

     A native of Southern California, she received her PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


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