Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Poetry Pop Up: E. Ethelbert Miller

Pumpsie Green

Years before we decided to change
our names and name ourselves
I held your baseball card in black
hands and wondered who gave you
the name Pumpsie.

How unforgettable, as if Nat
King Cole had decided to sing your
name. You were the first black player
to play for Boston. I wondered about 
the ear's loneliness when you got a
hit or the error someone made when
calling you to bunt and run.

How green was the Fenway field
before your arrival?  Your name
a sign against segregation finally
finding a place in the locker room.

Pumpsie Green.  What Red Sox
fan mistook your last name for 
being Irish after being puzzled by
your first?

E. Ethelbert Miller/photo by Annie Kim

E. Ethelbert Miller is a writer and literary activist. He is the author of several collections of poetry and two memoirs. Miller serves as a board member for The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region. For fourteen years he has been the editor of Poet Lore, the oldest poetry magazine published in the United States. In 1996, Emory and Henry College awarded Miller an honorary degree of Doctor of Literature. He has been a Fulbright Senior Specialist Program Fellow to Israel in 2004 and 2012. Miller has taught at several universities and currently serves on the faculty at the University of Houston/Victoria. His poetry has been translated into Spanish, Portuguese, German, Hungarian, Chinese, Farsi, Norwegian, Tamil and Arabic.

Miller is often heard on National Public Radio. He is host of the weekly morning radio show On the Margin which airs on WPFW-FM 89.3. Miller is host and producer of The Scholars on UDC-TV, and his E-Notes has been a popular blog since 2004. On April 19, 2015, Miller was inducted into the Washington DC Hall of Fame. In 2016, Miller received the AWP George Garrett Award for Outstanding Community Service in Literature and the DC Mayor's Arts Award for Distinguished Honor. His latest book of poetry, The Collected Poems of E. Ethelbert Miller, edited by Kirsten Porter and published in 2016 by Willow Books, is a comprehensive collection that represents over 40 years of his career as a poet.

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