Adam David Miller
Stanford Libraries acquires the papers of prominent African-American Berkeley poet, publisher and radio producer
From his early days as a UC Berkeley student, Adam David Miller has been a prominent fixture in the Bay Area literary scene. Stanford Libraries recently acquired Miller’s papers, a rich collection of primary source materials that documents the life and experiences of an author and publisher during a significant time in African American history and literature.
Miller edited and published an influential anthology of African-American poetry, Dices, or Black Bones: Black Voices of the 1970s (Houghton Mifflin, 1970), as well as five books of his own poetry and two memoirs: Ticket to Exile about growing up in the Jim Crow South, which was also a finalist for the Libraries’ William Saroyan Prize in 2008, and Fall Rising: Exile to Odyssey about his naval service in WWII, emigration to California, and life in the Bay Area in the postwar years.
“Mr. Miller's life, especially as recounted through his two superb memoirs, offers rich insights into the Great Migration, the mass movement between 1915 and 1970 of more than six million African Americans out of the South to cities across the Northeast, Midwest and West, including the Bay Area" said Benjamin Stone, Curator for American and British History and Associate Director of Special Collections at the Stanford Libraries.
In the mid-1960s, Miller helped launch Aldridge Players West, a Black drama group in San Francisco. The company embarked on several extended tours in the South, and produced and performed in Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia. He also co-founded Mina Press, which published Japanese American Women: Three Generations by Mei T. Nakano in 1990, as well as other works. He also worked with a variety of Bay Area public television and radio stations for over 30 years, creating programs on topics as varied as Norwegian culture and arts, the writings of Nisei (Japanese-Americans), women’s history and labor history. Miller has been a regularly featured poet on listener-funded KPFA, a progressive radio station located in Berkeley.
An archive with connections to many
Miller promoted and published other writers throughout his career. In Dices, Or Black Bones, he showcased the early poems of Al Young, California’s poet laureate (2005–2008), Ishmael Reed, A.B. Spellman, Clarence Major, Lucille Clifton, Etheridge Knight and Victor Hernandez Cruz. Miller’s own poetry includes: Neighborhood and Other Poems (1992), followed by Forever Afternoon (1994; Michigan State University Press), winner of the Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award, Apocalypse Is My Garden (1997), Land Between (2000), and The Sky is a Page (2010).
The more than 30 boxes of material cover Miller's entire career and contain manuscripts, journals, teaching materials, correspondence, photographs, and multiple drafts of Miller's published and unpublished work, as well as materials relating to the Aldridge Players West and Mina Press.“The collection will be of significant interest to scholars and students of African-American poetry and drama, as well as have appeal to Bay Area historians,” said Rebecca Wingfield, curator for American and British Literature at Stanford Libraries. “We are most fortunate to be adding the Miller papers to our collection.”
About Adam David Miller
Miller served in the United States Navy and attended university on the G.I. Bill, earning a B.A. in English, Speech and Mathematics and an M.A. in English from the University of California at Berkeley where he also completed post-degree work in drama and helped found the university’s Graduate Student Journal.
Miller’s extensive college teaching career began as an English instructor at San Francisco State College, now SFSU. Miller subsequently taught English for 21 years at Laney College in Oakland, California where he helped create Good News, a faculty and community journal of art and culture. He further served as an Instructor of English, Creative Writing and Literature at UC Berkeley, has twice been an Invited Fellow with the Bay Area Writing Project, and was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from BAWP. For six years, Miller served on the Berkeley Arts Commission and helped inaugurate the downtown “Poetry Walk.” He has won awards too numerous to name including the Reginald Lockett Lifetime Achievement Award from PEN Oakland.
Miller is married to Elise Peeples, philosopher, didgeridoo teacher, author of The Emperor Has a Body and the novel Strands, and founder of Art Between Us, a collaborative art and healing non-profit organization. Her forthcoming book is entitled Blow Sleep Apnea Away: How Playing Didgeridoo Can Alleviate Apnea, Asthma and Anxiety. They make their home in Berkeley, California.
More information on A.D. Miller and his life and work may be found on his website: http://www.admillerpoet.com.
Materials from the Miller archive will be accessible in Stanford's Department of Special Collections once processed and cataloged. If you are interested in sponsoring the access to this collection, please contact Gabrielle Karampelas at firstname.lastname@example.org or 650-497-4414.
For further information, about the Adam David Miller papers at Stanford, please contact:
Curator for American and British Literature
Stanford University Libraries
Curator for American and British History
Associate Director of Special Collections
Stanford University Libraries
Selected bibliography, included edited and published works:
- Dices, or Black Bones: Black Voices of the Seventies, edited by Adam David Miller (Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston: 1970).
- Neighborhood and Other Poems by Adam David Miller (Mina Press Publishing, Berkeley, CA: 1993).
- Forever Afternoon by Adam David Miller (Lotus Poetry Series, Michigan State University Press, East Lansing, MI: 1994).
- Apocalypse is My Garden by Adam David Miller (Eshu House Publishing, Berkeley, CA: 1997).
- Land Between: New and Selected Poems by Adam David Miller (Eshu House Publishing, Berkeley, CA: 2000).
- Japanese American Women: Three Generations 1890-1990 by Mei T. Nakano. (Mina Press Publishing, Berkeley, CA: 1990).
- Ticket To Exile, A Memoir by Adam David Miller (Heyday Books, Berkeley, CA: 2007). [Finalist for SUL’s William Saroyan Prize in 2007]
- The Sky is a Page: New and Selected Poems by Adam David Miller (Eshu House Publishing, Berkeley, CA: 2010).
- Fall Rising: Exile to Odyssey, A Memoir by Adam David Miller (Eshu House Publishing, Berkeley, CA: 2015).