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

Posted 03 Jan 2011

"Men & Women of Distinction: Miller Williams" will premiere on the Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN) Monday, Jan. 10, at 9:30 p.m.

“You hear people described as having the heart of a poet, but until you meet Miller Williams you really don’t know what that means,” Mark Wilcken, AETN “Men & Women of Distinction” producer and editor, 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.”

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, he ranks among the best of American poets.

Williams 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, he 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. In the early ’70s, Williams accepted a position at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville where he cofounded the University of Arkansas Press and the Comparative Literature program; founded the university’s MFA program in Literary Translation; and taught and mentored emerging poets, such as Chelsea Rathburn, Leon Stokesberry and R.S. Guinn.

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 life’s big questions and a keenly-honed poetic technique to the cadences of Arkansas porch talk.”

Online extras from “Men & Women of Distinction: Miller Williams” are featured on the AETN website at

“Men & Women of Distinction: Miller Williams” will repeat Sunday, Jan. 16, at 10:30 p.m. and Friday, Jan. 21, at 6:30 p.m.

“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 Arkansas’s 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).