Poetry. The Old Town of these poems is not, primarily, the Old Town that you may know. Kevin Miller has filled this town with family, friends, acquaintances, strangers some of whom may have never stepped a foot in the actual Old Town. He has called up events and experiences that would appear to be unrelated to the place. But one of the traits of Miller’s powerful metaphors is what I call dislocation. He drafts people, characters, images and events out of their familiar locations and contexts and weaves them into new situations, creating unexpected connections, original experiences. This new town is the locale of Miller’s vital imagination. Probably we all have an old town in us, in our memories or dreams. In these poems Kevin Miller invites us into his town, shares its truths and textures. And in the generous spirit of the man and poet, these poems are also an invitation to all of us, in whatever way we can, to forge and populate an old town of our own. -Loren Sundlee
Derek Sheffield Reads “Near Spring Old Town” by Kevin Miller
Kevin Miller’s poetry collection, Home & Away: The Old Town Poems, was published in 2008. Blue Begonia Press published his second collection Everywhere Was Far, for which he received an Artist Trust Grant. Miller’s first collection of poems, Light That Whispers Morning, received the Bumbershoot/Weyerhaeuser Publication award in 1994. Miller’s poems appeared in the anthology Weathered Pages in 2005. He has taught in the public schools of Washington State for 37 years and was a Fulbright exchange teacher in Denmark.
Allen Braden –
In Home & Away: The Old Town Poems, nearly every poem has the home court advantage. When Kevin Miller writes about place, for example, each locale becomes local: just around the corner, in the classroom, at the supper table or behind the fruit stand up the road. He has a knack for making the domestic smack of things exotic, words swirling in silk veils/thin enough to bring desire home/to this house where the rain slicker/lies in the corner near muddy boots. The poems in this remarkable book are often wry, wistful and yet also hopeful. On the way out,/I ll chant the names of those away./The way back, I ll list what they left/and assign it to the living. These pages offer the glitz of going out, the peace of coming home.
Kathi Morrison-Taylor –
It would be far too simple to say that Kevin Miller’s poems journey into the past, for, in many, the past refuses to recede. As quickly as his images gather, they reassemble into more than history, into a testament of discovery, into stories that anchor and echo, stories that gently bind us to the language that matters. Whether looking down into a gully of deer and stolen bicycles or waiting at the roadside stand while Clancy’s knife slices a golden delicious, I’m compelled to trust this poet’s vision. So quickly the everyday escapes its paper box to linger, ghostly and lovingly persistent. “No one’s doing lab work on mercy,” a principal notes in one poem, though a study of mercy is clearly a strand through Miller’s poems, as he shares the transformation of trace to grace and a tale of “a man with a face full of words/he no longer knows how to say.” Reading Home & Away, The Old Town Poems, this reader is held captive by wisdom and longing, blessings and heart.