Miller Williams

Miller Williams

About Miller Williams

Miller Williams (April 8, 1930 – January 1, 2015) was an American poet, translator and editor. He published 37 books of poetry and won several awards like the Henry Bellman Award, John William Corrington Award for Literary Excellence, the Porter Prize Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement in Writing, National Arts Award, New York Arts Fund Award. His accomplishments were chronicled in Arkansas Biography. He is perhaps best known for reading a poem at the second inauguration of Bill Clinton. One of his best-known poems is The Shrinking Lonesome Sestina. His last books of poetry are Time and the Tilting Earth: Poems (2008), Some Jazz a While: Collected Poems 1999), and The Ways We Touch (1997).
He was educated in Arkansas, first enrolling at Hendrix College in Conway and eventually transferring to Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, where he published his first collection of poems, Et Cetera, while getting his bachelor's degree in biology. He went on to get a masters in zoology at the University of Arkansas in 1952. He was the founder of the New Orleans Review at the Louisiana State University. In 1980, he cofounded, with history professor Willard Gatewood, the University of Arkansas Press and became its first director. As a professor and publisher, Williams became a mentor to hundreds of poets, including former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins, whose first book was published through the University of Arkansas Press.
Miller received the 1963–64 Amy Lowell Poetry Travelling Scholarship, and he won the 1991 Poets' Prize for his collection Living on the Surface. In 1997, President Bill Clinton selected Williams to read his poem Of History and Hope at Clinton's second inauguration, instantly bringing Williams to national attention. In addition, President Clinton presented Williams with the National Arts Award for his lifelong contribution to the arts.
Williams lived in Fayetteville with his wife Jordan. He died on January 1, 2015, of Alzheimer's disease.

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