Vassar Miller’s nine volumes of poetry, published between 1956 and 1984 were collected in 1991 under the title If I Had Wheels or Love. She was the 1987 Poet Laureate for the State of Texas, and her poems are published in hundreds of periodicals and more than 50 anthologies, including Spanish translations in Latin American journals.
The lasting power of Ms. Miller’s poetry and its distinctiveness was aptly described by many, including author Larry McMurtry. Reflecting on the qualities that make the work of only a few artists survive, Mr. McMurtry wrote of Vassar Miller and her poetry: “It’s easy to point out her clarity, her precision, her intelligence, her honesty. But I want to mention one other quality that I think she has both as a person and as a poet, and that is her tenacity. It’s not simply brute survival that a poet is involved with, although sometimes they are; it’s more than that. It’s a tenacity that has to be at one an the same time, physical, intellectual, and moral. I believe this tenacity is something that Vassar Miller is richly endowed with.”
In addition to her writing and teaching, Ms. Miller was involved in civic work. In 1989, the Young Women’s Christian Association named her an Outstanding Woman of Houston.
Born in Houston on July 19, 1924, her achievements as a poet became all the more remarkable given that she was born a victim of cerebral palsy. Ms. Miller was not only a poet of extraordinary talent, she was a woman whose indomitable spirit enabled her to overcome her significant physical limitations.
Vassar Miller died October 31, 1998.
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