Author / Writer; Poet; Teacher / Instructor
professor, artist, community activist and poet born in Martins Ferry, Ohio, and raised in Cadiz, Ohio, is a Kalamazoo Valley Community College instructor, artist, poet, and community activist. She received a BFA from Bowling Green State University in Creative Writing in 1992 and an MA from Central Michigan University in 1995. Her work has also been funded by an Emerging Artists Grant from the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo and the Gilmore Foundation. Miller is co-owner of Fire (www.thisisfire.com)—an arts and culture non-profit in Kalamazoo that has as its mission to encourage and respond to people’s desire for authentic expression. Fire reflects Miller’s belief that social and cultural awareness generate and sustain social justice. Miller believes that it is the poet’s job to tell the truth no matter what the cost. Sometimes that truth is a personal truth, and sometimes it is a larger one. This is public art at its truest—poetry that tells the stories of individuals in order to give the entire society its full voice. She hopes that her poetry does just that. In Audre Lorde’s words: “our labor has become more important than our silence.” Miller has researched the intersections between resistance to domestic violence and resistance to slavery and produced spoken word and poetry, visual art, public readings, and exhibitions on the subject. She uses her work both to give voice to the interconnectedness of oppression and resistance and juxtaposes violence against women, violence against African Americans and violence against gays and lesbians to reveal the truth that history has shown time and again: violence is violence. Her work has been published in Terror and Transformation: an anthology of sexual violence and healing, by Wising Up Press, Growing Up Girl by GirlChild Press, the Dunes Review, and the African American Review among others. She has had numerous solo art exhibits including the galleries at Waterstreet Coffee Joint, Fire, First Congregational Church, Washtenaw Community College, and Willow Lake Gallery. Currently, Miller is completing persona poems inspired in part by the oral histories collected by Dr. Michelle S. Johnson of Latino/as and African Americans in Saginaw, Michigan in a project called Community Spaces of the Industrious. According to Johnson, “The 300-page collection illuminates how economic, political and racial structures constrained and limited Saginaw residents’ self-definition and movement in urban and rural settings and also reveals how African Americans and Latino/as responded to and shaped their work and leisure worlds as they acted out their cultural autonomy.” After reading these oral histories, I asked Johnson to also begin a series of interviews with coal miners in my hometown of Cadiz, Ohio. The poems in this manuscript reflect the worker’s relationship to place and to their spouses or significant others. ”Supper”, “Leave” and “Which Stars” for example, intend to show the affects of race and place on African Americans in rural Ohio in the mid 1930’s. These poems and the entire collection then, seek to tell the stories of the intersections between race and industries and their affects on children, adults and families through form poems, persona poems and free verse. Her work has been published in Terror and Transformation: an anthology of sexual violence and healing by Wising Up Press, Growing Up Girl by GirlChild Press, the Dunes Review, the African American Review, american ghost: poets on life after industry by Stockport Flats Press and is forthcoming in Blackberry: a magazine this month. She is a 2014 Hedgebrook Fellow and a 2014 Willow Books Literature Award Finalist. workshop leader Graphite Writers work/shop - a 5 session series The workshop is centered around the idea that when a community of poets comes together to read and write, what comes from the mouth and the pen produces more effective poetry. To facilitate this process, the workshop will ask you to stretch yourself through diverse writing prompts and diverse readings. Poetry is powerful and so are the people who write it. It is the job of the workshop to create a space where poets can express that power. executive chef brings an expansive repertoire of multi-ethnic & vegetarian cooking, as well as quite a buzz & following as she has served regular customers who make the drive from Chicago all the way to her current Kalamazoo, Michigan vegan, vegetarian & raw food restaurant – fuel, which she started like she does all of her dishes – from scratch. miller is a product of women who cook. Niece of a long-time speakeasy owner and great-granddaughter of a domestic worker & cook, she grew up in the town where generations of her family were born & generations of the women in her family cooked & sold the fruits of their labor from the front doors of their houses. It was her great fortune as a young woman to regularly enjoy watching the hands of her great-grandmother dip monkey bread into cinnamon & sugar, dry & crumble sassafras leaves to make tea, braid the edges of pie crust or pick dandelions for her great-aunt to make wine. This was the place that birthed her & the speakeasy women that made their living were what made her & fed her creativity & her desire to feed people—body & spirit. To put herself through undergraduate school, she took a summer a job at a truck-stop when she came home. There, one Sunday morning, she found herself shifted from server to cook in a matter of minutes & she was hooked. Promoted to cook after only a few months, she found that the fast pace & the need to be creative & quick ignited her love for producing good food. Then came stints as sandwich maker & bartender. Every experience added to her repertoire. Finally, she became a professor & poet & here developed her love of digging in to history & story & place to make all of that palatable to the people she taught. Finally, she co-founded an arts & culture non-profit that initially fed the community mind & spirit until people began asking for her to add food. In response, she began the catering & culinary arts program at the non-profit, called bites 5 years ago. Miller was voted one of the top 5 chefs to watch in Southwest Michigan in 2012 (the only vegetarian chef & woman to gain this honor) & has been asked to add her talents to such events as Eat, Drink & Be Merry, The Gumbo Cook-Off, Dining Out for Life, The Golden Ladle & asked to add her recipes to Michigan Home & Lifestyle Magazine. She was also courted by the Food Network to be on two of its proposed new shows.