Miller Williams

Miller Williams
Miller Williams.jpg
Born Stanley Miller Williams
(1930-04-08)April 8, 1930
Hoxie, Arkansas, U.S.
Died January 1, 2015(2015-01-01) (aged 84)
Fayetteville, Arkansas, U.S.
Occupation Poet, translator, publisher
Nationality American
Spouse Jordan
Children 3

Stanley Miller Williams (April 8, 1930 – January 1, 2015) was an American contemporary poet, as well as a translator and editor. He produced over 25 books and won several awards for his poetry. 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."

Early life

Williams was born in Hoxie, Arkansas, to Ernest Burdette and Ann Jeanette Miller Williams. 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 taught in several universities in various capacities, first as a professor of biology and then of English literature, and in 1970 returned to the University of Arkansas as a member of the English Department and the creative writing program. In 1980 he helped found the University of Arkansas Press, where he served as director for nearly 20 years. At the time of his death, he was a professor emeritus of literature at the University of Arkansas.


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.

Personal life

Miller suffered from spina bifida.[1] He died on January 1, 2015, of Alzheimer's disease.[2] In February, 2016, his daughter Lucinda Williams released a song entitled "If My Love Could Kill," as a testament to her father's suffering from this terrible affliction.

Williams lived in Fayetteville with his wife Jordan. Besides their daughter Lucinda Williams, a three-time Grammy Award winning country music, folk, and rock singer, named "America's best songwriter" by TIME magazine in 2002, they had a son, Robert, and another daughter, Karyn, who graduated from the School of Nursing at the University of Arkansas. Williams also had three grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren.


During his lifetime, Williams received numerous awards in recognition of his work, including:


  • A Circle of Stone, 1965
  • So Long at the Fair, 1968
  • Halfway from Hoxie, 1973
  • Why God Permits Evil, 1977, Louisiana State University Press
  • The Boys on Their Bony Mules, 1983, Louisiana State University Press
  • Patterns of Poetry, 1986, Louisiana State University Press
  • Living on the Surface, 1989
  • Adjusting to the Light, 1992, University of Missouri Press
  • Points of Departure, 1994
  • The Ways We Touch: Poems, 1997, University of Illinois Press
  • Some Jazz a While: Collected Poems, 1999, University of Illinois Press, ISBN 978-0-252-06774-7
  • Making a Poem: Some Thoughts About Poetry and the People Who Write It, 2006, Louisiana State University Press, ISBN 978-0-8071-3132-9
  • Time and the Tilting Earth: Poems, 2008, Louisiana State University Press, ISBN 978-0-8071-3353-8


  1. ^ Edward Lewine (February 25, 2009). "Country House". New York Times Magazine. New York Times.
  2. ^ Campbell Robertson (January 2, 2015). "Miller Williams, Plain-Spoken Arkansas Poet, Dies at 84". New York Times.
  3. ^ a b c d Kenneth Bridges (January 15, 2015). "Arkansas History Minute: Famed state poet Miller Williams". Advance-Monticellonian. Retrieved July 15, 2016. [permanent dead link]
  4. ^ "Amy Lowell Poetry Travelling Scholarship Past Recipients". Amy Lowell Poetry Travelling Scholarship. Retrieved July 15, 2016.
  5. ^ Roy Reed (February 2, 1977). "Arts in Arkansas: They Make Music, Poetry, Even Movies". New York Times. Retrieved July 15, 2016.
  6. ^ a b Willard B. Gatewood (January 12, 2015). "Miller Williams (1930-1915)". The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture. Retrieved July 15, 2016.
  7. ^ "The John William Corrington Award for Literary Excellence". Centenary College of Louisiana. Archived from the original on July 3, 2016. Retrieved July 16, 2016.
  8. ^ "Lifetime Achievement Award". Porter Prize. Retrieved July 15, 2016.


  • Farnsworth, Elizabeth. Jan. 16, 1996. Interview with Miller Williams. American Poetry/PBS Online Newshour. [1]
  • Rosenthal, Harry. Jan 20, 1997. "Poet Addresses Inaugural Event." Washington Post. [2]
  • "Miller Williams." 2003. Entry in Contemporary Authors Online. Gale.
  • Gatewood, Willard B. October 28, 2009. "Miller Williams." Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture

Further reading

  • Burns, Michael (ed.) 1991. Miller Williams and the Poetry of the Particular. Columbia, Mo: University of Missouri Press.
  • Correspondence and other materials. Miller Williams Collection, 1950–1995. Fayetteville, Ar: University of Arkansas Libraries, Special Collections Division, Manuscript Collection 1387.