Sunday, February 20, 2011

Phil Miller, RIP

Phil Miller, a poet long associated with the Kansas City area until he retired from a local community college and left to live in Pennsylvania, died on February 14 at the age of 67.

Phil was kind enough to include one of my poems in his online journal The Any Key Review and arranged for my first reading in the area at Prospero's Books. He visited my creative writing class at UMKC on one occasion. On another occasion, he was willing to drive to Leavenworth on a Saturday morning to read his poems in a composition class of mine.

As I mentioned in a previous entry , Phil overcame any difficulties in writing regularly by returning to his obsessions. For that reason, many of his poems address things like cats, martial discord, alcohol abuse, and ghosts. His productivity was something I always admired.

I was lucky to have him submit poems to Cimarron Review when I was on the masthead as a poetry editor. Those poems he submitted were later included in Branches Snapping, his most accomplished collection.

Kansas City has lost one of its most active poets. He will be missed by those of us who admired him and respected his work. The following poem appeared in his obituary:

Life after Death

It isn't so bad, you know,
now that I've packed my bags.
I get along on my own,
pay my rent, hold down
a small job, have a friend
or two, at a distance, of course.
Look, there are my shoes
beside my bed, ready for action,
ready to walk whichever direction.
Who knows, this may be it.

(by Philip Miller, from his forthcoming collection, The Ghost of Every Day and Other Poems, to be published by Spartan Press, Kansas City, MO.)