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Wayne Miller

Wayne Miller

Wayne Miller was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, studied at Oberlin College, and after working briefly in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, received an MFA from the University of Houston. He is the author of a chapbook, What Night Says to the Empty Boat (Notes for a Film in Verse), and the recipient of a Ruth Lilly Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation, the Lucille Medwick Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America, and Poetry magazine’s Bess Hokin Prize. His poems have appeared in Boulevard, Chelsea, Crazyhorse, Epoch, FIELD, The Gettysburg Review, Hotel Amerika, LIT, The Paris Review, Poetry, Quarterly West, Sycamore Review, and on Poetry Daily. He lives in Kansas City and teaches at Central Missouri State University, where he co-edits Pleiades: A Journal of New Writing.

Also by Wayne Miller


Only the Senses Sleep

Only the Senses Sleep Only the Senses Sleep

$14.00 paper | 84 Pages
ISBN: 978-1-930974-65-4
Publication Date: Oct. 2006
Buy: Amazon | B&N | IndieBound | ShopWMU | UPNE

*Winner of the 2007 William Rockhill Nelson Award in Poetry from the Kansas City Star and The Writer's Place

*A The Kansas City Star's top 100 noteworthy book of 2006

"‘We breathe light’—this epigraph, a quotation from James Wright placed over one of the poems, is a key to Wayne Miller’s poetry. His poems are meditations on light and shadow as they enter our lives—as our lives enter them. Only The Senses Sleep is the author’s first book—amazingly mature."
        —Adam Zagajewski

"Miller describes both the visible and the invisible with elegant ease. These poems dissolve the boundaries between things and across time, so that the strangeness of the world is apparent: 'the sunlight comes as if through a phonograph needle' . . . Charting shifting perceptions of an ever-shifting world, Miller's is a welcome new voice: 'What's at issue is air', he writes, "words gripping its thick wet fur / while it fills us and leaves us.'"
        —Publisher Weekly, (Starred Review) Reviewed 2006-07-31

"In Only the Senses Sleep, the senses are fully awake much of the time, as Wayne Miller explores the world through defamiliarizing metaphor and shifts of perception; but the ‘half-seen’ emerges too, as the poet discovers ‘the possibility emptiness provides.’ In the frequent play of light and shadow, breath and air, surface and substance, the least embodied is often the most deeply experienced. ‘Sometimes the mouth of the world / opens,’ Miller says, ‘though at the last minute, / it always holds its tongue.’ That is often the moment when the poet most poignantly speaks to us in this wonderfully moving first book."
        —Martha Collins

"[This] gorgeously confident book is proof again of the vitality of poetry in the small presses."
        —The Kansas City Star

"For Miller, memory is treacherous yet essential: its operation foregrounds the absences that haunt him yet preserves, imperfectly, those present moments that fall away. . . . the present tense is where the poet seeks to dwell, though he mourns––eloquently, compassionately––that only language takes him there."
        —Ned Balbo, Antioch Review, Winter 2007


For the 20th Century

Now that it’s dark, I can say
thank god my piece of you went down with the sun—
that ancient Christ-like ship—.

Our past hums red
like a blood slide held up to the light,
a thin wash of cells. The body we keep opening
to spill its contents for a closer reading.
Days drift behind the blousy curtain . . . .

Our years in a house with an all-sunset view—
we kept the shades drawn tight. Nothing to do
but rearrange the furniture
and play the boardgames for keeps.

Why not brush on another layer of red?—
memory’s erasure—the immuring scrim of all we know.
History’s alchemy will explain away the big stuff,
while the interior of a life
cups its soul in its callused palm.

When I wake before morning
I let the booklight fill the night silence—my room,
the tiny part of you I lived. Outside,
the stoplight keeps cycling over
in the held breath of its empty intersection.

Each living cell numbered on the calendar—
blood in my body’s sponge. Looking back,
I must admit I’ll miss you.
I know you won’t ask me to explain why.