Wayne Miller is the author of five collections of poems, including Post-, The City, Our City, The Book of Props, and We the Jury, forthcoming March 2021. He is also a cotranslator of two books from the Albanian poet Moikom Zeqo, and a coeditor of three anthologies, including Literary Publishing in the Twenty-First Century and New European Poets. He is the recipient of the UNT Rilke Prize, the George Bogin Award, the Lucille Medwick Award, the Lyric Poetry Award, a Ruth Lilly Fellowship, the Bess Hokin Prize, and a Fulbright to Queen’s University Belfast. His work has been named a finalist for the William Carlos Williams Award and the PEN Center USA Award in Translation. Miller cocurates the Unsung Masters Series with Kevin Prufer and is a professor of English at the University of Colorado Denver, where he edits Copper Nickel.
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Books by Wayne Miller
A boy asks his father what it means to die; a poet wonders whether we can truly know another’s thoughts; a man tries to understand how extreme violence and grace can occupy the same space. These are the questions tackled in these poems.
Bringing together a wide range of perspectives—industry veterans and provocateurs, writers, editors, and digital mavericks—this collection reflects on the current situation of literary publishing, and provides a road map for the shifting geography of its future.
These poems exist in the wake of catastrophe: rogue gunmen, debt, hoax bombs, riots, and consumerism all haunt its pages. And yet this collection cuts through pain to open up a way forward, thrumming with pathos and humor, pain and the beauty of living.
A breakout collection that showcases the voice of a young poet striking out, dramatically, emphatically, to stake his claim on “the City”—an unnamed, crowded place. These poems—in turn elegiac, celebratory, haunting, grave, and joyful—give hum to our modern experience, to all those caught up in the City’s immensity.
A tightrope walker who travels on telephone wires; angels, scarecrows, friends, and lovers—the speakers in these poems often desire to hold time still, even as they acknowledge that to do so would actually mean the death of love, of experience. This collection is an imaginative yet authentic inquiry into the varied constructs in which we define love.
Author Q & A
Do you believe in inspiration? How much of this poem was “received” and how much was the result of sweat and tears?Brian Brodeur, How a Poem HappensAnswer
I like William Stafford’s idea about this. I’m paraphrasing, but he says something like: a poet is someone who has arrived at a method that allows him to say things he could not have said without that method. My method is nothing like Stafford’s (he wrote a poem every day before getting out of bed—and when a poem didn’t come, he would “lower his standards”), but I do think it’s the consistent work of continually touching back in with the possibility of a poem—and then, once I have a draft, with the poem-in-progress—that allows me to arrive at moments of genuine surprise. Moments, in other words, that feel “received” somehow. [Read more at How a Poem Happens]
How long do you let a poem “sit” before you send it off into the world? Do you have any rules about this or does your practice vary with every poem?Brian Brodeur, How a Poem HappensAnswer
I think what I outline above is typical: I carry a poem around and read it over obsessively, tinkering, revising, etc., until I exhaust myself and put it away for a couple weeks. Then I touch back in with it. If it seems done at that point—when I no longer quite remember the particular details of writing it—I send it out. If the poem requires more revision, I continue revising, then put it away again. Rinse, wash repeat. Sometimes after one of those repetitions I just abandon the poem. Other times, I find it’s done and I put it in the mail. If it comes back rejected, I check back in with it to see if I need to revise further. [Read more at How a Poem Happens]
Do you have any particular audience in mind when you write, an ideal reader?Brian Brodeur, How a Poem HappensAnswer
I tend to imagine a future audience—some person fifty or one hundred years from now who’s literate and has read a decent range of poetry. I’m by no means so confident in my work to be convinced I’ll be read in the future (are any poets so sure of themselves?), but I think it’s important—at least for me—to write with such an audience in mind. I try to remember that an important part of why we read poetry is to connect intimately with a mind that’s not our own—to discover as directly as possible how a mind in a different time or location lived and experienced the world around itself. When I’m thinking about the relative value (or non-value) of a poem of mine, I sometimes consider how well it some aspect our own moment in history—or at least of my tiny slice of it. [Read more at How a Poem Happens]