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Famed Northwest Arkansas poet Miller Williams featured in AETN's 'Men & Women of Distinction'

Posted 04 Nov 2010

The Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN), The University of Arkansas J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences Department of English and University of Arkansas Press invite the public to a free advance screening of Men & Women of Distinction: Miller Williams and poetry reading with the famed poet Sunday, Nov. 14, at 2 p.m. at the University of Arkansas Global Campus in Fayetteville.

You hear people described as having the heart of a poet, but until you meet Miller Williams you really dont know what that means, AETN Men & Women of Distinction producer and editor Mark Wilcken said. Miller is a man who was born to be exactly who he is, a poet. It runs through every facet of his life. The biography of Miller Williams is itself a poem.

Miller Williams might be best remembered 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 such notable authors as Flannery O'Connor, Williams made the switch from professor of biology to professor of English literature. Then, in the early 70's, Williams accepted a position at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville where he co-founded the University of Arkansas Press and the Comparative Literature program, founded the universitys MFA program in Literary Translation, and taught and mentored emerging poets such as Chelsea Rathburn, Leon Stokesberry and R.S. Guinn.

When most people think of Miller Williams they remember that he was the Inaugural poet at the second inauguration of Bill Clinton.  Those of us who knew Miller at the University of Arkansas, however, will also remember him as the inaugurator (along with William Harrison and James Whitehead) of the English Departments award-winning creative writing program as well as the

inaugural director of the University of Arkansas Press.  Like most great poets, Miller Williams has been inventing things for a long time.  We wish him every success as his career, abounding with inaugurals of all sorts, continues its remarkable inventiveness, said Joe Candido, chair of the English department at the University of Arkansas.

In his life, Williams has collected more than 15 awards recognizing his work. 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 clear-eyed practicality to lifes big questions and a keenly honed poetic technique to the cadences of Arkansas porch talk.

A reception will be held prior to the screening and refreshments will be provided.

Men & Women of Distinction features interviews with prominent Arkansans known for their citizenship, character and accomplishments. The series has previously featured former governors and U.S. senators David Pryor and Dale Bumpers, as well as former governor Sid McMath and Judge Morris Arnold.

The Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN) is Arkansass statewide public television network that enhances lives by providing lifelong learning opportunities for people from all walks of life. AETN delivers local, award-winning productions and classic, trusted PBS programs aimed at sharing Arkansas and the world with viewers. AETN depends on the generosity of Arkansans and the State of Arkansas to continue offering quality programming. For more information, visit, or follow the AETN blog at AETN is broadcast on KETS (Little Rock), KEMV (Mountain View), KETG (Arkadelphia), KAFT (Fayetteville), KTEJ (Jonesboro), and KETZ (El Dorado).