Jim Wayne Miller (1936--1996) was a prolific writer, a revered teacher and scholar, and a pioneer in the field of Appalachian studies. During his thirty-three-year tenure at Western Kentucky University, he helped build programs in the discipline in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Ohio, and worked tirelessly to promote regional voices by presenting the work of others as often as he did his own. An innovative poet, essayist, and short story writer, Miller was one of the founding fathers and animating spirits of the Appalachian renaissance.
In Every Leaf a Mirror, Morris Allen Grubbs and Mary Ellen Miller have gathered essential selections from the beloved author's oeuvre. Highlights from the volume include touchstone poems; seminal articles; a rare autobiographical essay; a commencement address; and an excerpt from the previously unpublished short story "Truth and Fiction." Revealing the scope and significance of Miller's contributions as an artist and cultural scholar, this reader captures the excitement that surrounded the birth of modern Appalachian literature.
With commentary by Mary Ellen Miller, an introduction from well-known author Robert Morgan, and an afterword by the notable Silas House, Every Leaf a Mirror provides an unprecedentedly intimate look at Miller's writing. This long overdue collection not only celebrates the life of this revered ambassador of Appalachian literature and culture but also introduces a new generation of readers to his work.
"I cannot say when I have enjoyed reading a book as much. Every Leaf A Mirror fills a long needed gap in Appalachian Studies literature by celebrating the life and work of one of the region's most important scholars and writers. Jim Wayne Miller was not only a prolific poet, essayist, and short story writer, but he was one of the critical founders of the Appalachian Renaissance. This little reader not only reminds me of Jim personally, a good friend, but it reflects on a whole era of reawakening, enthusiasm, and excitement that surrounded the birth of modern Appalachian literature in the 1960s and 70s. The editors have done a superb job of selecting pieces from Jim's wide ranging portfolio of poems, fiction, and non-fiction essays." -- Ronald D Eller, author of Uneven Ground: Appalachia since 1945
"Jim Wayne Miller is truly an icon in the fields of Appalachian Literature and Appalachian Studies. Furthermore, he is certainly a universal poet of great substance and allure, one of the twentieth century Kentucky poets who deserve widespread attention. Thus, this book makes an important contribution to scholarship, now and for the foreseeable future." -- George Brosi, coeditor of Appalachian Gateway: An Anthology of Contemporary Stories and Poetry
"Jim Wayne Miller was the great ambassador for Appalachian Literature, and one of the pleasures of Every Leaf a Mirror is the celebration of that achievement, but, most of all, this superb volume affirms that Miller's most lasting legacy will be his poetry and fiction. Every Leaf a Mirror is indispensible for anyone who wishes to understand Appalachian Literature." -- Ron Rash, author of Serena
"Jim Wayne Miller is a quintessential American voice: erudite and rustic; grounded and global; comic and serious. A beloved teacher and writer, he animated the classroom -- and the page -- with an antic intelligence, a genuine warmth, and an avid curiosity about the world, all of which served as a potent model for his students and readers. In whatever way we may know him, we are greatly privileged." -- Frederick Smock, author of The Bounteous World
"Jim Wayne Miller was a Renaissance Man of what has been called the Appalachian Renaissance. He was a poet, a prose stylist, a professor, and a proponent of all things of the mountains, especially the people. But first and foremost, he was a poet. So when you read Every Leaf a Mirror--and you will be glad you did whether you are of the mountains, the city, or the flatlands--after the crystalline poems, the passionate prose, and the engaged story of a life well-lived, you will come back to the poetry. And you will keep coming back. For Jim Wayne Miller, it's always the poems and the people--both uniquely particular and universally familiar. You won't forget them, or him." -- Charles E. May, author of I Am Your Brother: Short Story Studies
" Every Leaf a Mirror is a well-executed and necessary book. It presents a wide swath of the writing of Jim Wayne Miller showing the range and brilliance of his life's work." -- Jonathan Greene, author of Seeking Light, New & Selected Later Poems
"Poet, novelist, playwright, scholar, and teacher Jim Wayne Miller devoted much of his brilliant energy to articulating and nurturing Appalachian literature and culture. No single person influenced more writers and teachers in the region, and his "Brier Sermon" continues to preach to new generations the necessity of valuing your roots, even as you think "ocean to ocean." Every Leaf A Mirror makes it possible to experience and study Miller's multi-faceted vision in one beautifully edited volume. Don't miss it!" -- George Ella Lyon, author of Many-Storied House and co-author of Voices from the March on Washington
"During his lifetime, Jim Wayne Miller was a brilliant presence in Appalachian letters, and his voice rings as true as ever in this splendid new gathering of his finest work. As both a writer and a scholar, Jim was -- and he remains -- an eloquent champion of the great Appalachian narrative." -- Ed McClanahan, author of The Natural Man, Famous People I Have Known, and other books
"What has always drawn me back to Jim Wayne Miller's poems is their accessibility, their authenticity, their unaffected commemoration of the personal. Miller knows how to tell a good story, and though his impulse is primarily narrative, his poems make a distinctive music that resonates down the page. By turns serious and playful, the poems selected here in these smartly organized sections remind us that good literature is timeless, and they offer us the chance to sit down again with an affable companion who left us too soon." -- Jeff Worley, author of A Little Luck
"For those who are familiar with Jim Wayne Miller's work, Every Leaf a Mirror is a welcome reunion; for those who are not, it is a wonderful gift. Miller's voice was one of the finest of the Appalachian revival. It was silenced far too soon." -- Joe Survant, author of The Land We Dreamed: Poems
"This collection of Jim Wayne Miller's nonfiction, fiction, and poetry reflects the depth and significance of his impact on Appalachian studies as an author, teacher, and scholar. Accompanied by photographs of Miller and a chronology of his life, this anthology serves as both an introduction to Miller and his work, and as an indispensible resource for Appalachian scholars." -- Appalachian Heritage
" Every Leaf a Mirror is a collection that is both homage and art.... this collection of Miller's work brings the variety and scope of his thought into full view.... Miller as both scholar and poet meet in this work and the resulting exchange provides evidence of powerful parallels present throughout Miller's lifetime of thought and reflection." -- Micah McCrotty, Appalachian Journal