Vassar Miller Analysis

Other literary forms

(Poets and Poetry in America)

Vassar Miller edited Despite This Flesh: The Disabled in Stories and Poems (1985), poems and stories on the nature of physical disability and its sufferings by various writers.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Considered by many to be the best poet to have emerged from Texas, Vassar Miller was widely hailed at the publication of her second book of poems, Wage War on Silence, which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in 1961. Several of her other books won awards from the Texas Institute of Letters. In 1982, she shared with the poet William Barney the poet laureateship of Texas. Her poetry is noted for its formal craftsmanship, its distinct precision of language and rhyme in traditional form, and its account of a life of loneliness and suffering from cerebral palsy and of a strong faith in Christianity expressed with erotic passion.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Christensen, Paul. West of the American Dream: An Encounter with Texas. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2001. In exploring the land and people of his adopted state of Texas, Christensen assesses the origins of modern poetry and presents three portraits of modern Texas artists and poets—Miller, Charles Gordone, and Ricardo Sánchez—to show twentieth century poetic evolution in Texas.

Ford-Brown, Steven, ed. Heart’s Invention: On the Poetry of Vassar Miller. Houston, Tex.: Ford-Brown, 1988. The first collection of essays on the poetry and life of Miller contains eight essays by other poets and literary critics, and an interview by Karla Hammond. Themes include the regional aspects of Miller’s poetry and the role of religion in her work, the stylistic influences of contemporary poets, and the use of Miller’s intricate metrical structures as a metaphor of physical perfection despite her severe disability.

Griffin, Shaun. “A Genius Obscured.” Sojourners 29, no. 3 (May/June, 2000): 50. Griffin pays tribute to Miller with a profile of her as a poet, self-taught theologian, and disability advocate.

Kellner, Bruce. “Vassar Miller, Swimming on Concrete.” Literature and Medicine 19, no. 2 (Fall, 2000): 138-151. In this memoir, Kellner recounts his twenty-five-year friendship with Miller, during which he was her correspondent, intimate friend, explicator, and occasional partner in poetry readings.

Rosenthal, Peggy. “Knowing in the Bones: The Poetry of Vassar Miller.” Christian Century 114, no. 17 (May 21-May 28, 1997): 533-538. Miller’s explicitly religious poetry is examined. Argues that when Jesus is the subject of Miller’s poetry, her intensely personal, deeply lived spiritual awareness is manifested.