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Men and Women of Distinction: Miller Williams

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The general public might remember Miller Williams as the man who delivered the inaugural poem at Bill Clinton's second inauguration. But in the world of literature, Miller Williams ranks among the best of American poets. Williams is a man who discovered his calling early in life, writing poetry under the guidance of his mother as a boy. When his academic life brought him into the sciences, Williams continued his writing and self published his first book of poetry in 1952. Attracting the attention of Flannery O'Connor, Williams made the switch from Professor of Biology to Professor of English Literature. In the early 70's, Williams accepted a position at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville where he would co-found the University of Arkansas Press, founded the university’s MFA program in Literary Translation, co-founded the Comparative Literature program and taught and mentored emerging poets such as Chelsea Rathburn, Leon Stokesberry and R.S. Guinn.

In his life, Williams has collected over fifteen awards. Of his most recently published book in 2009, “Time and the Tilting Earth”, Joel Brouwer of the New York Times said this: "In poem after poem, he mingles the low and the high in both form and content, bringing a sense of cleareyed practicality to life’s big questions and a keenly honed poetic technique to the cadences of Arkansas porch talk."

TRANSCRIPT

PROFESSIONALLY, APART FROM MY CHILDREN AND THEIR CHILDR,  I WOULD WANT TO HAVE MY POETRY READ

AND APPRECIATED ON PAPER

AS LONG AS THERE ARE WORDS ON PAPER. IT WOULD MAKE ME VERY HAPPY ON MY DEATHB TO BELIEVE THAT IN 1,000 YEARS, SOMEONE WOULD ACTUALLY OPEN A BOOK  AND READ ONE OF MY POEMS.  [upbeat electronic music]  ♪ - HIDDEN IN THE HILLS OF THE UNIVERSITYF KAASAMS  IS A TREASURE THAT HAS GONE MOSTLY UNREGNED  BY THE PEOPLE OF ARKANSAS. HIS NAME IS MILLER WILLIAMS, AND HE HAS WRITTEN, EDITED, OR TRANSLAD MORE THAN 30 VOLUMES OF POETRY, LITERARY CRITICISM,  AND FICTION. HE BECAME A PROFESSOR  OF SCIENCE,

THEN QUITE UNEXPECTEDLY,  A PROFESSOR OF LITERUR HE IS A MAN WHO PARTICIPATED  IN SIT-INS DURING THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT  AND WAS THE INAUGURAL POET  FOR BILL CLIONN 97

BUT MORE THAN ANYTHING,

MILLER WILLIAMS IS A M WHO HAS CONTRIBUTED TO THE CANON

OF CONTEMPORARPORY HIS POETRY IS A FUSION  OF SCIENCE AND PLOPH  THAT IS EXPRESSED IN A PLAINSPOKEN STY  THAT IS ACCESSIBLE

TO ALL READERS. HE WAS DESCRIBED ONCE AS THE HANK WILLIA OF AMERICAN POETRY,

BECAUSE WHILE HIS POETRY IS TAUGHT AT PRINCETON  AND HARVARD,

IT'S READ AND UNDERSTOOD BY SQUIRREL HUNTERS  AND TAXI DRIVERS.

MILLER WILLIAMS

IS A MAN OF DISTINCTION WITH A UNIQUE TALENT  AND A UNIQUE LIFE; ONE THAT IS ROOTED RIGHT HERE  IN ARKANSA - MY PARENTS WERE BOTH BORN IN 1894 INOREA AANS. THEY BOTH GREW UP ON FARMS; THEY EACH HAD A HIGH SCHOOL EDUCATION LY

WHICH OF COURSE,  AS I THINK EVERYONE KNOWS,  IS THE EQUIVALENT AT LEAST OF A COLLEGE ECAONOD.

THEY WERE ALSO EXTREMELY  AND CONSISTENTLY LIBAL THEY WERE FEMINISTS, BELIEVED IN SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, WERE IN ALMOST

EVERY INSTANCE PACIFISTS AND INTEGRATIONISTS. MY FATHER WAS A UNION ORGANIZER.  HE WAS ONE OF THE FOUNDERS

OF THE SOUTHERN TENANT FARMERS' UNION  - SOUTHERN TENANT

FARMERS' UNION,

ONE OF THE GREAT

SOCIAL MOVEMENTS  DURING THE DEPRESSION ERA. - YES, IT WAS A UNION

OF SHARECROPPERS WHO WERE ALMOST WHITE SLAVES. THEY NOT ONLY EARNED  THEIR RIGHTS  THROUGH THIS UNIONIZATION, BUT IT WAS AMERICA'S

FIRST INTEGRATED UON AND THAT HAS ALWAYS BEEN A MEDAL  ON THE LAPEL  OF MY FATHER IN MY HEART.  - MILLER WILLIAMS WAS BORN  ON APRIL 8, 19, IN HOXIE, ARKANSAS; THE EIGHTH OF 11 CHILDREN BORN, BUT ONE OF ONLY SIX  TO SURVIVE PAST CHILOO HIS FATHER, ERNEST,  WAS A METHODIST MINIER AND HIS MOTHER, ANN JEANETTE,

CARED FOR THE ILEN AS A MINISTER'S SON, WILLIAMS' RLLI W AOMICNE HE LIVED IN FIVE ARKANSAS TOWNS AS HE GREW U AS A BOY, WILLIAMS WAS A MEMBER OF THE LIFE OU,  STUDIED THE INTERNATIONAL  LANGUAGE ESPAN

WITH HIS FATHER,

AND WROTE POETRY  UNDER THE GUIDANCE OF HIS MOTHER.  GROWING UP

IN A LIBERAL HOUSEHOLD,  WILLIAMS WAS AN OPEN-MINDED YOUTH WHO OFTEN TESTED HIS IDEOLOGY.

IN THE MID '40s, WHILE LIVING IN FORT STH WILLIAMS WENT TO A BASKETBALL GAME WITH AN INTEGRATED YOUTH GROUP.  HE WAS ONLY 16 YEARS OLD, BUT HE WASN'T AFRAID TO STAND UP FOR HIS NVTIS. - WE SAT ON THE WHITE SIDE, BUT THERE WERE A CIRCLE OF EMPTY SEATS AROU U OCOSE BUT NOBODY DID ANYTHING HOSTILE EXCEPT TO SAY AND SHOUT A FEW WORDS.  AS WE LEFT,  ONE OF THE WHITE STUDENTS,  WHOM I HAD KNOWN,

RAN UP BEHIND US

AND WHIRLED ME AROUND--  I WAS 16--

AND HIT ME IN THE MOUTH WITH HIS FIST

AND KNOCKED OUT MY UPPER FRONT TEETH. I WOKE UP WITH MY HEAD  ON THE LAP

OF MY SWEETHEART

WHO WAS WITH US.  HER SKIRT WAS ALL BLOODY. THEY HELPED ME HOME  AND TOLD MY FATHER WHAT HAPPENED,  MY PARENTS WHAT HAPPENED, AND HE WANTED TO GIVE ME THE PURPLE HET. - THAT STORY MIGHT SAY MORE

ABOUT WILLIAMS'ARTS  THAN HIM, BUT IT ALSO SAYS A LOT ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT IN WHICH HE GREWP. WHETHER STANDING UP TO BULLIES OR WRITI AONT,  WILLIAMS NEVER HAD A PROBLEM EXPRESSINGIMLF  IN 1947, WILLIAMS

WAS 17 YEARS OLD AND ENTERED HENDRIX COLLEGE TO PURSUE HIPAIO FOR LITERATURE AND WRITING, BUT HIS ACADEMIC LIFE WOULD TAKE  AN UNEXPECTETU  NOT LONG AFTER HE ARRIVED. - I ENTERED HENDRIX AND DECLARED A DOUBLE MAJ  IN ENGLISH AND FOREIGN LANGUAGES. AND AT THE END OF MY FIRST SEMESTER,  THE HEAD OF THE PSYCHOLOGY

DEPARTMENT CALLED  I

AND SAID TO ME, "MR. WILLIAMS, "THE APTITUDE TEST YOU TOOK

WHEN YOU ENTEREDENIX

"INDICATES THAT YOU HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO VERBALPTUD  "AND IF YOU DON'T WANT TO

EMBARRASS YO PEN, "YOU WILL CHANGE YOUR MAJOR "TO THE HARD SCIENCES  IMMEDIATELY, BECAUSE THAT'S  WHERE YOUR APTITUDLI."  I WAS TAUGHT

TO TRUST THOSE IN CHARGE  AND TO OBEY MY SUPERIORS. SO I CHANGED MY MAJOR AT THE END OF  THAT SEMESTER TO BIOLOGY. - WHILE WILLIAMS MAINTAINED  HIS INTEREST  IN LITERATURE AND WRITING, HIS ACADEMIC CAREER FOLLOWED THE SCIENCE HE RECEIVED A BACHELOR OF SCIENCE DEGREE  BLO AND A MASTERS DEGREE IN ZOOLOGY. WHILE ENROLLED IN A GRADUATE PROGRAM AT LOUISIANA STATE UNIVERSITY, HE MET HIS FIRST WIFE,  LUCILLE DAY,

WHO WAS STUDYING

TO BE A CONCERT PIANIST. AND BY 1951, HE WAS MARRIED AND STARTING A FILOFISWN

OVER THE COURSE OF THE NEXT DECADE,

WILLIAMS TAUGHT SCIENCE  AND BIOLOGY

AT UNIVERSITIES  AROUND THE SOUTH, WELCOMED HIS THREE CHILDREN,  LUCINDA, RER A KYN

INTO THE WORLD, AND CONTINUED WRITING POETRY, PUBLISHING HIS FIRST COLLECTION

IN 1952.

BY THE END OF THE '50s, WILLIAMS WAS LIVING AND TEACHING  IN MACON, ORA, AND PURSUING HIS PHD IN PHYSIOLOGY. - I WAS TEACHING AT WESLEYAN  COLLEGE IN MONGEGI IT'S, AS YOU CAN UNDERSTAND, A METHISSCOL AND FLANNERY O'CONNOR LIVED JUST A FEW LEAW OA RM

ONE OF OUR GREAT SHORT STORY WRITERS. SHE GAVE A TALK AND READING  AT WESLEYAN,  AFTER WHICH I INTRODUCED MYSELF TO HER, AND WE BEGAN TO CHAT. BECAME GOOD FRIENDS AFTER AWHILE. AND EVERY COUPLE OF WEEKENDS, I WOULD DRIVE OVER TO HER HOME  AND TAKE LUCINDA,  MY DAUGHTER, WHO WAS ABOUT FIVE,

WITH ME. AND FLANNERY WOULD LET LUCINDA  CHASE HEPEOC WHICH SHE KEPT ON THE FARM. AND FLANNERY AND I WOULD TALK ABOUT HER STORS D  PTR  I SAID, "FLANNERY, YOU CALL THEM SHORT ORS,  BUT TO ME,  THEY'RE LIKE LONG POEMS." AND SHE SAID, "YOU CALL THEM POEMS,  BUT I THINK THEY'RE LIKE SHORT STIE"

AND SHE ASKED ME  WHY I WAS TEACHING BIOLOGY  WHEN I HAD READ EVERYTHING  THERE WAS TOEA IN ENGLISH LITERATURE

AND PUBLISHED MORE POEMS  AND STORIES

THAN I PUBLISHED ANYTHING IN BIOLOGY. I TOLD HER THE STORY  OF WHY I CHANGED MY JO AND SHE SAID, "WELL, YOU OUGHT

TO BE TEACHINGNGSH  LSU ADVERTISED FOR SOMEONE TO TEACH LITERATURE

IN THE GRADUATE PROGRA AND SOME UNDERGRADUATE COURSES. FLANNERY WROTE THEM AND SAID,

STRANGE AS IT MAY SEEM, "THE PERSON YOU WANT  IS A PROFESSOR OF BIOG AT WESLEYAN COLLEGE AT MACON,  GEORGIA, MLEWIIA." THEY COULDN'T BELIEVE THAT,

BUT THEY COULDN'T IGNORE  FLANNERY O'NN.  SO THEY WROTE ME AND SAID, "SEND US SOMHI." I SENT THEM SOME POEMS

AND A COUPLE OF STORS. AND-- - HAD YOU NOT ALREADY PUBLISHED

A BOOK OF POEM BY THAT TIME, I THINK? - YES. AND THEY CALLED ME AND SAID,

"WHEN CAN YOU T RE - THE 1960s SAW A MAJOR CHANGE

IN THE DIRECTION OF MILLER WILLIAMS' CARR.  BASED SOLELY ON THE MERITS OF HIS WRITI  AND WITHOUT

A DEGREE IN THE SUBJECT, WILLIAMS BECAME A PROFESSOR OF ENGLISHITATE AT LOUISIANA STATE UNIVERSITY.

FOUR YEARS LATER HE JOINED THE FACULTY OF LOYOLA UNIVERSITY

IN NEW ORLEANS, WHERE HE FOUNDED AND EDITED

THE NEW ORANREEW  A JOURNAL OF CONTEMPORARY

LITERATURE AND CTU. WILLIAMS' PROFESSIONAL LIFE WAS FILLINYN WITH HIS PASSION FOR POETRY, BUT THERE WERE DRAMATIC CHANGES IN HIS PERSOL FE HIS MARRIAGE TO LUCY ENDED, AND BY THENDF E CA, HE HAD MARRIED HIS SECOND WIFE,  JORDAN HAL

THEN IN 1970, A SEQUENCE OF EVENTS WOULD UNFO THAT WOULD FINALLY LEAD WILLIAMS  BACK TO ARKAAS - JIM WHITEHEAD WROTE THE REVIEW  OF A BOOK OF POEMS

BY SYLVIA PLATH.

ONE OF THE POEMS WHICH HE DISCUSSED AT LENGTH WAS CALLED ODE TO MY UTERUS,

AND THE PRIESTS

COULDN'T DEAL WITH THAT. - SO IT WAS AFTER THAT THAT YOU WENT TO THE UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS  FETVIE.

- WELL, A YEAR. - A YEAR AFTER THAT. - BECAUSE I WENT HOME THAT DAY AND SAID TJOAN "I HAVE SOMETHING TO TELL YOU." BECAUSE I DIDN'T HAVE A JOB ANYMOR IT WAS THE END OF THE SCHOOL YEAR. AND SHE SAID,

"WELL, I'M ON THE PHONE GO AHEAD AND READ THE MAIL, AND THEN WCATA." SO I WENT TO OPEN THE MAIL. THE FIRST LETTER WAS FROM THE FULBRIGHT CMIIO

IT SAID,  "DEAR PROFESSOR WILLIAMS, "THE PERSON WHO HAD ACCEPTED OUR FULBRIT OFSOHI  "AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MEXICO HAS DIED. "AND WE NEED SOMEONE WHO IS A PROFESSORF GLH AND SPEAKS SPANISH"--  AS I DID--

"AND IS FREE NEXT YEAR,"  WHICH I WAS.

I SPOKE SPANISH BECAUSE I HAD LIVED IN CHILE FOR YR. I WON THE AMY LOWELL TRAVELING SCHOLARSHIINOEY  14.

SO I PUT THE LETTER DOWN  AND WALKED BACK TO JDA WHO WAS HANGING UP THE PHONE. AND SHE SAID, "WHAT IS IT YOU WANTED TO LLE?

[laughs] AND I TOLD HER, "WE'RE GOING TO MEXICTOIVNE YR. AS WE FINISHED OUR YEAR IN MEXICO,

I WAS CONTACTED  BY JIM WHITEHEAD,  WHOM I HAD TAUGHT WHEN HE WAS AN UNDERGRUA AT MILLSAPS COLLEGE IN JACKSON.  HE CALLED ME AND ASKED ME IF I WOULD CE REO AC WHEN I WAS THROUGH IN MEXICO. I WAS PLEASED BY THAT BECAUSE I DIDN'HA AWHE  G

AND WE GOT HERE  ON NEW YEAR'S DAY IN '. GEN WHITEHEAD, NOW GEN BROYLES AFTER JIM DI, FOUND US THIS HOUSE  THAT WE'RE IN W  RT

WHILE WE LOOKED FOR A PLACE TO LIVE.

AND WE LIKED IT SO MUCH  THAT WE BOUGHT IT. WE'VE BEEN HERE EVER SINCE.  - FOR MORE THAN 30 YEARS, WIIA W AIXRE  T FETVIE MP. AS A PROFESSOR  IN THE ENGLISH DEPARTMENT, WILLIAMS PARTICIPATED IN THE GROWTH OF A CREATIVE WRITING PROGRAM, WHICH WOULD BECOME RECOGNIZED  AS ONE OF THE BEST

IN THE COUNTRY. HE CO-FOUNDED THE UNIVERSITY  OF ARKANSAS ES

WHICH PROVIDED AN OUTLET FOR ARKANSAS WRITE  TO PUBLISH  AND DISTRIBUTE THEIR WORK. HE FOUNDED THE UNIVERSITY'S MASTERF NERTPRRA

IN LITERARY TRANSLATION,  CO-FOUNDED THE COMPARATIVE LITERATURE PROAM  AND TAUGHT AND MENTORED EMERGING POETS  SUCH AS CHELSEA RATHBURN,

LEON STOKESBURY,

AND R.S. GWYNN. TO HIS COLLEAGUES, WILLIAMS

WAS A MAN OF CSCNC

HE WAS DEEPLY HUMANISTIC  AND BELIEVED THAT EVERYONE

WAS WORTH LISTENG . BUT BENEATH IT ALL, WILLIAMS WAS A POET

AND HAD BEEN FOR AS LONG AS HE COULD REMEMB.  - I LEARNED TO READ POETRY

ALMOST AS EARLY AS I LEARNED TO READ, AND I WAS TRYING TO WRITE IT ALMOST AS SOON AS I LEARNED TO WRITE.

WHEN I WAS A BOY SCOUT,

I BEGAN TO WRITE POETRY

ABOUT BEING A BOY SCOUT AND NEVER HAD

ANY QUESTION IN MY MIND ABOUT WHERE I WANTED MY LIFE TO TAKE ME

I DID NOT EVEN SLOW DOWN

WHEN I CHANGED MY MAJOR

FROM ENGLISH AND FOREIGN LANGUAGES TO BIOLO. OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM, I WAS THE SAME PERSON DOING THE SAME TNG  - IN 1997, MILLER WILLIAMS

BOARDED A PLANE

AND TOUCHED DOWN  IN WASHINGTON D.C. HE HAD BEEN INVITED BY AN OLD FRIEND ANDORR LLGU FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS

TO READ A POEM THE OLD FRIEND WAS BILL CLINTON AND THE OCCASION WAS HIS SECOND  INAUGURATIONS ESEN

ONLY TWO INAUGURAL POETS  HAD PRECEDED HIM, MAYA ANGELOU IN 1993 AT CLINTON'S FIT AURA  AND ROBERT FROST,  WHO WAS THE FIRST AT JOHN F. KENNEDY'S INAUGURATIONN 61 - I GOT A PHONE CALL FROM A WOMAN,  A REPORTER FOR SOME PAPER, WHO SAID SHE WANTED

TO TALK TO ME BECAUSE- I SAID, "WHAT ABOUT?" SHE SAID, "BECAUSE YOU'RE GOING  TO READ E AURAPO AT BILL CLINTON'S INAUGURATION." I SAID, "I'M SORRY, YOU'VE CALLED THWRG RS." I HAD NO IDEA.

SO SHE HUNG UP,

A BIT IRRITATED,

UNDERSTANDABLY. AND JUST A DAY LATER, I WAS CALLED BY BILL CLINTON, WHO ASKED ME IF I WOULD READ THE INAUGURAPO. HE HAD TOLD SOMEONE,  OBVIOUSLY, THAT HE WAS GOING TO CALL ME,

AND THE WORD GOT TO THIS REPORTER WHO CALLED ME AND SO THEN IT WAS MY RESPONSIBILITY  TO WRITE THE POEM.  AND IT WAS WELL-RECEIVED,

I THINK. - IT WAS A COLD DAY, THAT DAY WHEN YOU DELIVEDT, TNK - YES, IT WAS.  - BREATH FROSTING. IT ALWAYS IS ON INAUGURAL DAY

IN WASHINGTON, TNK - I WAS ON THE STAFF OF THE BREAD LOAFRIRSONREE IN VERMONT WITH ROBERT FROST  IN THE 's.  AND HE WAS

AN INAUGURAL POET THEN, AS YOU MAY REMEMBER. - HE DID THE INAUGURAL POEM AT JOHN F. KENNE'S AURAON  - EXACTLY. - THE FAMOUS ONE WHERE THE WIND BLOWS HISOEAW. - AND HE SAID TO ME, "MILLER, IF YOU'RE EVER ASKED  TO BE THE INGUL ET BE SURE AND PASTE IT DOWN." AND I TOOK THAT SIMPLY AS A FRIVOLOUS MOMT BECAUSE I KNEW

THAT HE WAS THE ONLY ONE WHO WAS GOING

TO BE AN INAUGURAL POET. BUT WHEN I WAS THE INAUGURAL POET, I HELD ONTO IT VERY TIGHTLY AND THOUGHT ABOUT IT AS I READ IT. - 'CAUSE I THINK IT WAS A WINDY DAY ENASEL WN'IT - YES, IT WAS. - IT'S ALYSIN PBAY

TT ATRM  - BUT HE RESPONDED

TO HIS SITUATION  IN A WAY I COULD NOT HAVE. HE RECITED AN APPROPRIATE POEM  OF HIS OWN  THAT HE KNEW FROM MEMORY.

[laughs] I COULD NOT HAVE DONE THAT. OF HISTORY AND HOPE. "WE HAVE MEMORIZED AMERICA,

"HOW IT WAS BORN AND WHO WE HAVE BEEN  "AND WHERE. "IN CEREMONIES AND SILENCE,  "WE SAY THE WORDS, TELLING THE STORIES,

SINGING THE OLD SONGS."  - IN 1957,  JUST FIVE YEARS AFTER SELF  PUBLISHING H FSTOO

OF POETRY, WILLIAMS WON

THE HENRY BELLMAN AWAR IN 1961, HE WON THE BREAD LOAF WRITERS COERCEELWSP,

FOLLOWED IN 1963 BY THE AMY LOWELL TRAVELING FELLOWSHIP IPORY IN ALL, WILLIAMS HAS COLLECTED MORE THAN  ARD FOR A WRITING CAREER THAT SPANS MORE TH 5YES. IN SPITE OF THE RECOGNITION,  THE REAL JOY FOR WILLIAMS

IS IN THE POEMS; WRITTEN ON THE PAGE OR READ ALOUD. - THIS IS ONE OF MY MOST ANTHOLOGIZED EM AND ONE OF THE MOST REQUESTED

AT MY READINGS IT BEGINS AS SIMPLY A STORY

OF AN OCCURRENCE WHEN LUCINDA WAS FIVE.

THE CATERPILLAR. "TODAY ON THE LIP OF A BOWL

IN THE BACKYARD, "WE WATCHED A CATERPILLAR CAUGHT IN THE CIRE "OF HIS LARVAL ASSUMPTIONS.  "MY DAUGHTER COUNTED HALF A DOZEN TIMEHEENARND "BEFORE ROLLING BACK AND LAUGHING,  "I'M A CATERPILLAR. LOOK.

"SHE LEFT HIM MEASURING

OUT HIS SLOW, GREEN WA "TO SOME PLACE THERE MUST HAVE BEEN A PICREF SI H. "AFTER SUPPER, COMING

FROM PUTTING THE CARP, "WE STOPPED TO LOOK, "FIGURED HE'D CROSSED

THE YARD ONCE EVERHO "AND LEFT HIM WHEN WE WENT TO BED "WRINKLING NO CLOSER

TO MY LANDLORD'S LEES  "THAN WHEN HE SOMEHOW FELL TO HIS PRIVA CCL "LATER I FOLLOWED BARE FEET AND DOOR CLIS  MDAHT "TO THE YARD, "THE BOWL A MILK WHITE MOONLIGHT EYE "IN THE BLACK GRASS.  "IT DIED.

"I SAID 'HONEY, THEY DON'T LIVE VY NG "IN BED AGAIN,  RE-COVERED AND RE-KISSED, "SHE LOCKED HER ARMS  AND MUMBLING LOVE TOIN  "UNTIL TURNING SHE SLIPPED "INTO THE DEEP BONE-BOTTOMED DISH OF SLP. "STUMBLING DRUNK AROUND THE RIM,  "I HOLD THE WORDS SHE SAID TO ME ACROSS T DK. 'I THINK HE THOUGHT HE WAS GOING IN ATRGHLI.' NOW, WHEN I REMEMBER ROBERT FROST SAYIN

THAT A POEM HAS TO BEGIN AS THE POET'

AND END AS THE READER'S,  I REALIZED THAT THAT POEM

IN THE BEGINNING

IS ABOUT NO ONE BUT LUCINDA AND ME.  BUT EVERYONE WHO READS IT OR HEARS IT- "I THINK HE THOUGHT HE WAS GOING IN A STRAIT NE- WOULD KNOW WHO THAT POEM IS ABOUT. WE HAVE ALL THOUGHT WE WERE GOING IN A STIG LE. - WHAT DOES THIS CAMPUS MEAN TO YOU WHEN YOU WALK AROUND THIS CAMPUS? - IT BRINGS TO MIND

MORE THAN I CAN EXPRESS,  OF COURSE. MOST OF THE PEOPLE WHO WERE

IMPORTANT IN MLI N I MET ON THIS CAMPUS. AND MUCH OF WHAT I AM  WAS SHAPED

BY WHAT HAPPENED TO ME ON THIS CAMPUS. - DID YOU EVER TEACH  IN OLD MAIN,  WHICH IS BEHIND US  IN THIS BUILDING?  - OH, YES. - YOU TAUGHT SOME CLASSES THERE? - I TAUGHT IN OLD MAIN

UNTIL KIMPEL WAS BUILT BUT OLD MAIN IS STILL TO ME

THE HEART OF THE CAMPUS AND THE CORE OF MUCH  OF MY MEMORY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS. IT IS A SYMBOL OF ALL THAT IT MEANS TOE. - WHAT'S A TYPICAL DAY  FOR YOU NOW? - I STAY BUSY. I'M WRITING ARTICLES AND ALWAYS WORKINONOMBOS. BUT MOSTLY I'M WORKING ON MY MEMOS. - YOU DO THAT CHRONOLOGICALLY,

OR YOU JUST COME UP WITH MEMORIES AS THEY COME DO A-- - NO, I'M WRITING IT  FROM THE BEGINNI

TOWARD THE END. I DON'T KN OCOSE ENHENDS INTOE.  AND I HAVE WRITTEN AS IF IT WERE AN INTIMATDIY

UP UNTIL  ABOUT THE MIDDLE OF 2002.

AND I AM NOW HAVING SOME  DIFFICULTY MOVING RWD BECAUSE I'VE HAD FIVE

SO-CALLED MINOR ROS

AND A GRAND MAL SEIZURE. AND I'M HAVING DIFFICULTY REMEMBERING THE DETAILS OF MY LIFE  SINCE THE MIDDLEF 02  BUT I'M SORTING THEM OUT,  DIGGING TH O, AND FINDING THEM OUT.

WHAT'S HAPPENING

IN THE LAST YEAR OR TWO

I HAVE DOWN PRETTY WELL. BUT DURING THAT PERIOD OF ABOUT SIX OR SEN AR IT'S AS IF AN ERASER HAD RUN ACRO T BCKAR AND I'M HAVING SOME DIFFICULTY  WITHHA

BUT EVEN THAT IS A STORY TO TELL IN MY MEMOIR  - MILLER, I WONDER  WHAT THE MAJOR INFLUENS IN YOUR LIFE AND YOUR POETRY.

- I AM ETHICALLY  AND IN PERSONALITY  THE ONE THAT I AM BECAUSE OF MY PARENTS,  ERNEST AND ANGIE WILLIAMS. I AM THE POET I AM PRIMARILY BECAUSE OF THEOEJO CRD  AND TO SOME DEGREE

HOWARD NEMEROV, ROBERT FROST,  ELIZABETH BISHOP.

I AM THE MILLER WILLIAMS THAT I AM NOW IN GREAT PART BECAUSE  OF MY WIFE JORDA THOSE ARE THE MAJOR INFLUENCES  IN MY LIFE.

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