Wednesday, January 02, 2019

Interview with poet, performer, librarian David P.Miller

David P. Miller ( Right) with Doug Holder on Poet to Poet Writer to Writer

David P. Miller’s chapbook, The Afterimages, was published in 2014 by the Červená Barva Press. His poems have appeared in Meat for Tea, Main Street Rag, Ibbetson Street, Painters and Poets, Fox Chase Review, Third Wednesday, Wilderness House Literary Review, Muddy River Poetry Review, Oddball Magazine, Incessant Pipe, Clementine Unbound, and Ekphrastic Review, among others. Anthology appearances include Tell-Tale Inklings #1 and three Bagel Bards Anthologies. His poem “Kneeling Woman and Dog” was included in the 2015 edition of Best Indie Lit New England. David was a member of the multidisciplinary Mobius Artists Group of Boston for 25 years, and was a librarian at Curry College in Milton, Mass. 

I had the pleasure to interview Miller on my Somerville Media Center Show,
"Poet to Poet Writer to Writer."

Doug Holder: You were influenced by the composer John Cage. How did he influence you as a poet?

David P. Miller: We can talk for hours about Cage. Cage was actually a poet and visual  artist. My influences from Cage come mostly from my years as a performance artist. The kind of experimental poetry he did seeps into my work. I admired his attention to detail to the specific kinds of phenomena he deals with in his compsition and poetry. 

DH: You were a librarian for many years; you were a member of Mobius--an experimental arts and performance group in Boston for a long while ( now on the Board of Directors) --but the poet Jane Hirschfield jump started you into poetry.

DPM:  I have been an active poetry reader since 1990. I didn't think of myself as a poet. But in 2006 I heard that the Bookstore at the Zen Mountain Monastery in the Catskills was offering a poetry workshop with Jane Hirshfield.  So I participated. Hirshfield presented exercises, etc... but what changed in me as result of it was that I got interested in the act of writing poetry. I realized I had a basic ability to write poems based on prompts she gave. About 3 years later I started to steadily write poems.

DH: I read your poem "The House" at my creative writing seminar at Endicott College. It was reminiscent of  a poem we were studying in class-- "The Shirt" by Robert Pinsky. Like Pinsky --who traced the lineage of  a shirt in his poem--you traced your house in Jamaica Plain in a similar way. Like Pinsky, you broke up your House into its component parts--each part-a part -of the whole.

 DPM: True in some ways it is similar to Pinsky's. My house is on Mozart St. in J.P. I actually traced the chain of owners of the house for that poem.

DH: You were a librarian at Curry College in Milton, MA. for many years. Was this a good place to work at as a poet?

DPM: It was great have access to a library. Needless to say I was a strong advocate of buying poetry books. I majored in theater at Emerson College in Boston. But I never intended to pursue it professionally. I didn't want to live the hardscrabble life you need to go through to succeed in the field.   My friend Mary Curtain -who worked at the library at Emerson-- helped get me a job there. I remember clearly the first day I worked there. I was at the reference desk and someone asked me a question. I was able to answer it! I said to myself, " Wow, I am actually doing this!" Later I worked at Curry for over two decades--I retired from there in June, 2018.

{A Birthday Card for John Cage On His 100th}

a sudden rustling –
the ailanthus drops a leaf
just before sunrise

tiny prayer flags lift
in the slightest passing breeze –
late summer crickets

what’s this soft tapping?
downy woodpecker testing
October cornstalk

is it a bird’s call?
someone walking in the dark
with one squeaky shoe

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