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Welcome to Pamela Miller's page at ChicagoPoetry.com. In addition to $100, as the winner in the 1st Annual Frieda Stein Fenster Memorial Award, Pam Miller (seen here receiving her award check at the April 7th Chicago Poetry Uncensored show at the Guild Complex) also receives this page at ChicagoPoetry.com in celebration of her commitment to poetry in Chicago. Check back here from time to time, as Pam Miller updates this page with sample poems and information about her upcoming readings.
UPCOMING APPEARANCES AND RECENT SIGHTINGS:
Pamela will be the featured reader at Kristoffer’s Café (www.kristofferscafe.com), 1733 S. Halsted (in Pilsen) at 7 p.m. Also on the program: poetry by Bradley Seidman, Jessica and Tracey Jakubik; open mike hosted by Vittorio Carli, music by Jackie Jackson and Mexican-syle pastries to die for!
THE MILLER STORE
Recipe for Disaster
Mayapple Press, 2003
$12 (plus $1.50 shipping/handling)
“Recipe for Disaster is a delicious book. It is whimsical, hilarious, a virtual smorgasbord of delights. Miller has fun with her poems and comes up with the wackiest juxtapositions, liveliest language, and wildest similes I’ve ever heard. This is a book you’ll want to taste, roll around on the tongue, and suck on for a while. It is a hearty candy and a ‘Black Plague cake.’ It is a many-coursed meal. It teaches you to fish, so you can eat for life.”
--Kathleen Kirk, RHINO
“Recipe for Disaster is a completely perfect body of Miller’s snap dragon voice, a surreal and often times all too real exploration into a Chicago woman, where the mundane becomes the outrageous and fantasy is sworn under oath as the truth and nothing but. As we read her work, we are not prepared for the rapid twists and turns of the mountainous journey into her imagination, and constantly find the secret trap door in the floor being opened beneath our feet. Pam Miller is a bold, courageous, uncompromising writer. If you’re only going to buy one book of poetry this year, cough up twelve bucks and let Pamela Miller help you escape.”
--C. J. Laity, ChicagoPoetry.com
Recipe for Disaster can be ordered from:
408 N. Lincoln St.
Bay City, MI 48708
7538 N. Bell
Chicago, IL 60645
Also available at: Woman Made Gallery, 2418 W. Bloomingdale Ave., Chicago, IL 60647-4301
Other Books by Pamela Miller:
Ridgeway Press, 1993
“So much of the poetry we read today is so utterly lacking in imagination and creative wit that it’s a real treat to discover someone like Pamela Miller. She offers a world view at times sensual and gently erotic, at times explosively absurd and daffy—but always original and arresting.”
“The imagery in Pamela Miller’s work has always been astounding. Her similes, metaphors and mere descriptions hit between the eyes like a ton of love bricks; her juxtapositions do more than cause a ‘pop’ between the left and right lobes of the brain—they cause an implosion. This is funny, funny stuff.”
--Lydia Tomkiw, Letter eX
Fast Little Shoes
The Erie Street Press, 1986
“Whether you choose a fox trot, el tango or la rhumba, Pamela Miller’s Fast Little Shoes will take you through some exuberant pas de deux. Have this dance.”
“In Pam Miller’s work, all is the rush of discovery, the poet leading the reader through the room of her imagination/experience. What we are left with are not insights flaccid with unmemorable ‘city visions,’ etc., but images that work hard to entertain, to cajole the reader into seeing something.”
--Deborah Pintonelli, Letter eX
These two books are both out of print. However, there are still a few copies floating around at various used-books stores (Myopic Books had ‘em the last time I looked) and on Internet bookstores like Amazon.com and ABE Books—often at wildly varying prices!
Hate Your Boss? Fight Back with Poetry!
I’m free at last
you tantrum of splat,
you lichen-faced fop,
you bucket of gunk with
you greasy smear of ratatouille
on the dazzling white smile of life!
Find yourself a new sucker,
you mechanized yam.
Eat wasps. Grow an udder.
Drive your car off the cliff
of your cheesiness. . . .
--from “Resignation Letter to the Boss from Hell”
“Resignation Letter to the Boss from Hell” by Pamela Miller
Outrider Press, 1998
8½ x 11” color broadside
$3 (plus $0.75 shipping/handling)
7538 N. Bell
Chicago, IL 60645
Pamela sez: “Don’t work for a jerk! Writing this poem inspired me to tell my boss what he could do with his lousy job—and it can work for you, too!”
MRS. CARSEN TALKS ABOUT HER FIRST MARRIAGE
It was like mixing
and peanut butter
around and around
in a great big bowl
and then sticking your
face in it
for thirty-seven years.
--From Mysterious Coleslaw, Ridgeway Press, 1993
Seven brides on seven bridges.
A swarm of emeralds
dances on the face of the river.
Midnight wiggles its ears
like an angel
to charm us into sleep.
Silver brides on golden bridges.
Sorrow, that salad of spikes,
nibbles at our necks like Dracula.
Chairs and squids and new nations
sprout from the rectory ceiling.
Lightning forges morning’s name
on night’s nasty deck of black postcards.
Seven brides for seven hours.
Why does the groom
always bolt from the motorcar screaming?
Why is love such a ghostly buzz saw,
sinister as tapioca?
ADDRESSING PERSONS OF RANK
Hail to the Chief
with his rubberized legs
and his snazzy chapeau
of mauve gauze!
Huzzah to Hizzoner
the Mayor of New York
with his foot-long
God save the Queen
with her back scrub machine
and her gold-plated shoes
full of bonbons!
See him there, the Zulu warrior!
See him there, the Zulu Chief!
festooned with fists,
ablaze with beetles,
a nut case nabob in electrified hot pants
that deliver a kick like a mule!
But how should one address
the poor Baroness Strange,
lugging roses to the House of Lords
every morning, her only
apparent political function,
pathetic in her dress of wet snails?
And what about you,
my scorpion love,
towering over the ditch of my need
with your cloak of cold wind
and your face of blank rock
and your heart of clanging tin?
Do I rank you with rage,
title you with tears
Caliph of Cruelty
Emir of Indifference
as I bow to you backwards,
a kowtowing commoner,
howling out your imperial name
beneath a rabble of anonymous stars
HOW TO MAKE LOVE TO A MAN
1. Remove clothes. Strap on large pair of wings.
2. Take Cleopatra death mask from safe. Put it on.
3. Approaching bed, grasp partner firmly with legs
while singing old Egyptian love poems. Assume
horizontal double-deck position.
4. Pull lever to open skyhatch in roof.
5. Cradling partner tightly, zoom through the roofdoor
at speed of light.
6. Set course straight for sun. On arrival, do the
Theban hand dance and release a bag of spangles
in the solar wind.
7. Wait five minutes, then continue on to Saturn. Enter
the icy rings. Assume vertical suspension position,
as if treading water.
8. Press faces together; fuse. Press hips together; fuse.
9. Strobe on-and-off millions of colors as the ice
whips wildly around you.
10. When finished, exit rings and sail like a boomerang
round the huge curve of the planet.
11. Coast slowly back to Earth on the moonpull.
Deposit partner in New Orleans, in a courtyard
full of roses.
12. If you actually love the man, omit step 11.
Close eyes and keep going. Remove wings.
--From Mysterious Coleslaw, Ridgeway Press, 1993
EXCERPTS FROM A SURREALIST RESUME
for Penelope and Franklin Rosemont
An endless midnight traipse through a parliament of swans
upon the River of Light.
SUMMARY OF QUALIFICATIONS
Award-winning spangled pomegranate. Delicatessen strangler. Expert at
stealing the moon’s three cufflinks. Clever little salmon of God.
B.F.A. Sapphire Licking, University of the Break of Dawn.
Amphora, Gnats & Libido, Inc. (1995-Present)
* Created alphabets of lightning.
* Improved a small apocalypse.
* Designed flamenco limericks on Heaven’s pink back porch.
* Developed a snake dance of spontaneous human combustion.
* Expedited blueprints of disease.
* Planned and implemented swirling collisions of copacetic brains.
Available in hoarfrost.
Infinities of broccoli. The gleaming tooth of glory.
A closetful of brand new souls.
--From Recipe for Disaster, Mayapple
MARIE WRITES A LETTER TO HER HUSBAND
JUST BEFORE SHE FINALLY LEAVES THE WOMANIZING JERK
I wish you a plague of scorpions,
scuttling, brown and sinister as
all my years with you:
scorpions in your coffee,
your hairpiece, your bank account,
nothing but names of scorpion species
in your throbbing
little black book.
May you be plagued with failures:
promotion after promotion
flapping away like uncatchable crows,
your lucky streak snapped like a
the life of Job wallpapered
all over yours. And as for your grandiose
long lush manhood,
towering and proud as the Chrysler Building,
may it sink, sink, sink like the Spanish Armada,
never to sail again!
I will you a plague of vaginas,
angry ones. No, not the kind
with the tired old teeth,
but vaginas that march around in your head,
clomping and stomping their furious lips;
that cancan up and down
in your chest, kicking away at
your heart. Vaginas that
sprout on your face like pimples,
cunts that encrust on your butt like barnacles,
one for each mistress and
thousands for me,
shouting me on as I bolt to daylight,
oh million fierce mouths of my morning,
laughing your name down to Hell.
--From Recipe for Disaster, Mayapple Press, 2003
PAMELA MILLER was born in Baltimore in 1952 and grew up in Pittsburgh, London, Brussels, Paris, Cleveland and Chicago. She attended the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, studied with Chicago poets Paul Carroll and Paul Hoover, and received her BA in Writing/English from Columbia College, Chicago, where she co-edited the student writing anthology Hair Trigger II. She has published three books of poetry: Recipe for Disaster (Mayapple Press, 2003, http://www.mayapplepress.com), Mysterious Coleslaw (Ridgeway Press, 1993), and Fast Little Shoes (Erie Street Press, 1986). She is also the author of the performance poetry piece “How to Handle a No-Good Man” and the broadside “Resignation Letter to the Boss from Hell” (Outrider Press, 1998). Her awards include three Illinois Arts Council Literary Awards for Poetry, First Prize in both the 1998 and 1999 Feminist Writers Guild poetry contests, First Prize in the Jo-Anne Hirshfield Memorial Poetry Awards, First Prize in the Rambunctious Review poetry contest, and First Place in ChicagoPoetry.com’s 2004 Frieda Stein Fenster Memorial Awards. She has also been nominated for three Pushcart Prizes. Pamela lives on Chicago’s Far North Side with her husband, science fiction writer Richard Chwedyk (http://www.sfwa.org/members/chwedyk) and 700 frogs.
The Paris Review, Free Lunch, Primavera, Pudding (featured poet), The MacGuffin, Poets On:, Giants Play Well in the Drizzle, Wisconsin Review, Clutch, Tomorrow Magazine, Oyez Review, Moon Journal, Paradidomi, Piedmont Literary Review, Rambunctious Review, Poetry & (featured poet), Blue Light Red Light, Chicago Poetry Dot Net, Strong Coffee, Zuzu’s Petals Quarterly Online, Overtures, Krax, Laughing Bear, Lucky Star, Letter eX, Skywriting, Spout, The Neon Literary Review, Seams, Seven-Oh-Eight, S.L.U.G.fest Ltd., Poetalk, Chicago Poetry Letter News, Out There, Mati, Screen Door Review, Snakeroots, Thunder Egg, Wide Open, Hair Trigger, The Best of Hair Trigger and others.
* Inhabiting the Body, Moon Journal Press, Arlington Heights, IL, 2002.
* Take Two, They’re Small, Outrider Press, Crete, IL, 2002.
* Her Mark 2002, Woman Made Gallery, Chicago, 2001.
* A Kiss Is Still a Kiss, Outrider Press, 2001.
* Daughter of Dangerous Dames, 11th Hour Productions, Chicago, 2000.
* Feathers, Fins and Fur, Outrider Press, 1999.
* Animals Don’t Knock! Tails from the Pet Shop, 11th Hour Productions, 1999.
* Freedom’s Just Another Word, Outrider Press/Feminist Writers Guild, 1998.
* Dangerous Dames, 11th Hour Productions, 1998.
* The Word Salad Anthology 1996-1997, Black Dog Press, Chicago, 1997.
* Women and Death, Ground Torpedo Press, Ann Arbor, MI, 1994.
* Naming the Daytime Moon: Stories and Poems by Chicago Women, Feminist Writers Guild, Chicago, 1987.
* The Windflower Home Almanac of Poetry, Windflower Press, Lincoln, NE, 1980.
The Knitting Factory (New York City); Macomb Community College, Mask Gallery (Detroit); Keane’s 3300 Club reading series, Yakety Yak Coffeehouse reading series (San Francisco), WisCon feminist science fiction convention (Madison, WI).
WBEZ (Chicago Public Radio), Dial-A-Poem Chicago!, Printers Row Book Fair, Bucktown Arts Fest, Chicago Poetry Festival, Midwest Literary Festival, The Poetry Cram, Guild Complex, Woman Made Gallery, Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago Public Library – Harold Washington Library Center, N.A.M.E. Gallery, Taste of Chicago Writing Conference, Logan Square Branch Library, Mayfair Branch Library, Near North Branch Library, West Town Branch Library, River Oak Arts reading series, Myopic Books, WGLT-FM (Normal/Peoria public radio), MoJoe’s, Bailiwick Arts Center, Women & Children First, Roosevelt University, Glenview Public Library, Skokie Public Library, Twilight Tales reading series, Word Salad reading series, Café Aloha, Barbara’s Bookstore, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Unabridged Books, Guild Books, Greenview Arts Center, Beach Poets reading series (Chicago Park District) and others.
Critiquing and Teaching:
* Visiting writer, Critique Week panels, School of the Art Institute of Chicago M.F.A. Writing Program.
* Led two poetry workshops for RHINO: The Poetry Forum.
* Co-taught one-day Poetry Master Class, Harold Washington College.
* Workshop critique panelist, Poets & Patrons, Inc.
* Curated Poetry by Candlelight reading series at Chicago Public Library’s Logan Square Branch - 1995-1997.
* Judged poetry contests for TallGrass Writers Guild, The MUSE writers group, Rambunctious Review, and the Jo-Anne Hirshfield Memorial Poetry Awards.
* Poet of the Month, ChicagoPoetry.com – March 2004.
HEROES AND INFLUENCES
If you like Pamela Miller’s poetry, you might also enjoy some of the following poets who have inspired or influenced her work:
* Paul Carroll
* Gregory Corso
* John Dickson
* Thax Douglas
* Russell Edson
* Kenward Elmslie
* Amy Gerstler
* Kenneth Koch (especially his long poem, “Fresh Air”)
* Whitman McGowan
* Henri Michaux
* Frank O’Hara
* Ron Padgett
* Franklin Rosemont
* Maureen Seaton
* James Tate
* Tony Towle
* Paul Violi
* Philip Whalen
* Dean Young
PAMELA MILLER CAN BE CONTACTED AT:
7538 N. Bell, Chicago, IL 60645