Miller Williams

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Miller Williams
Born Stanley Miller Williams
(1930-04-08)April 8, 1930
Hoxie, Arkansas
Occupation Poet, Translator, Publisher
Nationality United States

Miller Williams (born April 8, 1930) is an American contemporary poet, as well as a translator and editor. He has authored over 25 books and won several awards for his poetry. His accomplishments have been chronicled in Arkansas Biography. He is perhaps best known for reading a poem at President Clinton's 1997 inauguration. One of his best-known poems is "The Shrinking Lonesome Sestina."

Early life[edit]

Williams was born in Hoxie, Arkansas to Ernest Burdette and Ann Jeanette Miller Williams. He was educated in Arkansas, first enrolling at Hendrix College in Conway and eventually transferring to Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, where he published his first collection of poems, Et Cetera, while getting his bachelor's degree in biology. He went on to get a masters in zoology at the University of Arkansas in 1952.


He taught in several universities in various capacities, first as a professor of biology and then of English literature, and in 1970 returned to the University of Arkansas as a member of the English Department and the creative writing program. In 1980 he helped found the University of Arkansas Press, where he served as director for nearly 20 years. He is currently a professor emeritus of literature at the University of Arkansas.


Miller received the 1963–64 Amy Lowell Poetry Travelling Scholarship, and he won the 1991 Poets' Prize for his collection Living on the Surface.

In 1997, President Bill Clinton selected Williams to read his poem "Of History and Hope" at Clinton's second inauguration, instantly bringing Williams to national attention. In addition, President Clinton presented Williams with the National Arts Award for his lifelong contribution to the arts.

Personal life[edit]

He has spina bifida.[1]

He is the father of Lucinda Williams, a three-time Grammy Award winning country music, folk, and rock singer, named "America's best songwriter" by TIME magazine in 2002.

Williams currently lives in Fayetteville with his wife Jordan. He has two other children, a son, Robert, and another daughter, Karyn, who graduated from the School of Nursing at the University of Arkansas. Williams also has, from his daughter, Karyn, three grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren.




  • Farnsworth, Elizabeth. Jan. 16, 1996. Interview with Miller Williams. American Poetry/PBS Online Newshour. [1]
  • Rosenthal, Harry. Jan 20, 1997. "Poet Addresses Inaugural Event." Washington Post. [2]
  • "Miller Williams." 2003. Entry in Contemporary Authors Online. Gale.
  • Gatewood, Willard B. October 28, 2009. "Miller Williams." Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture

Further reading[edit]

  • Burns, Michael (ed.) 1991. Miller Williams and the Poetry of the Particular. Columbia, Mo: University of Missouri Press.