Millar received an MA degree from Johns Hopkins University in 1970. He has worked as a telephone installation foreman and commercial fisherman and in 1997 gave up this blue collar life to try his hand at teaching. He has poems about fatherhood, labor, relationships and the life of the American man in the 20th Century.
In 2002, Millar was awarded a Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and in 2008 his work won a Pushcart Prize. He has also been the recipient of grants from the Montalvo Center for the Arts and from Oregon Literary Arts. In 2012, he was selected as a Guggenheim Fellow.
^J. Scott Brownlee (January 10, 2012). "BLUE RUST by Joseph Millar". Rattle. Elegiac snap-shots of 1960’s-1970’s industrial America like this one can be found throughout Blue Rust and make the collection’s title, given the ongoing economic downturn of the United States, seem particularly apt.