Poet in Residence

From time to time a poet is in residence at the Poetry Archive, talking about poetry with anyone who wants to join in the conversation. You are welcome to explore our archive of past residencies and read some of the lively and varied discussions you'll find there.

Kei Miller

Kei Miller

"Raise high the roofbeams, here comes a strong new presence in poetry," wrote Lorna Goodison when Kei Miller burst onto the poetry scene with his 2006 debut Kingdom of Empty Bellies. Miller was born in Jamaica in 1978 and read English...

Poem in process

Kei Miller - 2 March 2010

It's a perfect time to do this experiment because I've just been asked to write a poem on 'Bob Marley' for a journal. I would have usually passed on such a commission; I don't think poems about such iconic people usually work and it's a tough challenge to avoid the usual cliches and sentimentality that can creep into a 'tribute' poems.

So, to be honest, I'm not sure if this will work - but each day for the next week, I will try to shape a draft of this poem.

Top Poet

Kei Miller - 15 February 2010

But pretensions aside, I appreciate how one art often helps us to appreciate another. I listen to the chefs talk about cultivating a good palette and to me this is exactly how poets might work hard to cultivate a good ear. I am intrigued by how chefs try to balance a plate and how they work to bring different components together, and how in ambitious cooking we try combinations that the regular person might not expect but that work – that surprise us but are still that comforting balance of salt and sweet, spicy but not overpowering.

Why I can't write a poem for Haiti

Kei Miller - 27 January 2010

I don't mean to be a curmudgeon, though it's true: five days after the earthquake and I was already tired of all the facebook status messages that simply had to mention the quake in one way or another. I became wary, as I often do, of the world having gone into its saviour mode - how we had begung begging to be congratulated and validated because, just for this moment, we had remembered our humanity. I know I shouldn't be so critical.

But I find poetry boring!

Kei Miller - 17 January 2010

But it's true, I am afraid; and maybe it is true for all of us. We don't like everything. Also, some poems are only for a season. We grow into one poem as we grow out of another. The wonderful thing is this: there are so many good poets out there, writing eloquently and movingly, and in so many different ways. We don't have to try to like everyone - even those who everyone else says we should like.

What kind of poet am I?

Kei Miller - 14 January 2010

You see, poets often dislike labels and they especially dislike those that would seem to appoint them spokespersons for any one group. After all - the Chicano poet or the queer Poet or the feminist poet, if they are worth their salt, will soon realize they have ambitions to write something larger than Chicano poetry or queer poetry or feminist poetry.

Glossary term


Referring to something by one of its characteristics rather than its name.

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