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poet

E. Ethelbert Miller

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Eugene Ethelbert Miller was born in the Bronx, New York, on November 20, 1950, and received his BA in African American studies from Howard University in 1972.

His poetry collections include How We Sleep on the Nights We Don’t Make Love (Curbstone Press, 2004); Buddha Weeping in Winter (Red Dragonfly Press, 2001); Whispers, Secrets, and Promises (Black Classic Press, 1998); and First Light: New and Selected Poems (Black Classic Press, 1994). He is also the author of the two memoirs The 5th Inning (PM Press, 2009) and Fathering Words: The Making of an African American Writer (Black Classic Press, 2000) and the editor of a number of anthologies, including the highly acclaimed In Search of Color Everywhere (Stewart Tabori & Chang, 1994), which received the 1994 PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award.

His honors include the Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award given by Poets & Writers; the 1994 Columbia Merit Award; the 1982 Mayor’s Arts Award for Literature in Washington, D.C.; the O. B. Hardison Jr. Poetry Prize; and a fellowship from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. In 1979, the mayor of Washington, D.C., proclaimed September 28, 1979, as “E. Ethelbert Miller Day,” and on May 21, 2001, “E. Ethelbert Miller Day” was proclaimed in Jackson, Tennessee, as well. In 1996, Miller was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Literature from Emory & Henry College, and on April 19, 2015, he was inducted into the Washington, D.C., Hall of Fame.

Miller is the founder and director of the Ascension Poetry Reading Series, one of the oldest literary series in the Washington area, and for a decade served as the editor of Poet Lore, the oldest poetry magazine in the United States. He served as a commissioner for the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities from 1997 to 2008, is board emeritus for the PEN/Faukner Foundation, and is the former director of the African American Resource Center at Howard University, a position he held for over four decades.

Miller has taught at American University, Bennington College, Emory & Henry College, and George Mason University, among others, and his work has been translated into multiple languages. He is currently the board chair of the progressive think tank the Institute for Policy Studies and lives in Washington, D.C.


Selected Bibliography

Poetry
How We Sleep on the Nights We Don’t Make Love (Curbstone Press, 2004)
Buddha Weeping in Winter (Red Dragonfly Press, 2001)
Whispers, Secrets, and Promises (Black Classic Press, 1998),
First Light: New and Selected Poems (Black Classic Press, 1994)
Where Are the Love Poems for Dictators? (Open Hand Publishing, 1986)
Season of Hunger/Cry of Rain: Poems 1975-1980 (Lotus Press, 1982)
The Migrant Worker (Washington Writers’ Publishing House, 1978)

Nonfiction
The 5th Inning (PM Press, 2009)
Fathering Words: The Making of an African American Writer (Black Classic Press, 2000)

 

by this poet

poem

       (for Me-K)

It was the language that left us first.
The Great Migration of words. When people
spoke they punched each other in the mouth.
There was no vocabulary for love. Women
became masculine and could no longer give
birth to warmth or a simple caress with their
lips. Tongues were overweight from
poem
I'm in the school bathroom
washing my hands without
soap but I'm still washing my hands.

I turn the water off
and look for a paper towel
but paper towels have been gone
since the first day of school
and it's June now.

I start to leave the bathroom
with my wet hands but then
the big boys come in talking
loud
poem

When was the last time you mailed a postcard?

My mother kept the ones I sent her. My sister mailed them back

to me after my mother died. I had forgotten I had written

so many small notes to my mother. The price of stamps

kept changing. I was always mentioning on