The City, Our City (Paperback)
A William Carlos William Award Finalist for 2012
A Kansas City Star Top Book of 2012
A Library Journal Top Winter Poetry Pick A series of semi-mythologized, symbolic narratives interspersed with dramatic monologues, the poems collected in The City, Our City showcase the voice of a young poet striking out, dramatically, emphatically, to stake his claim on "the City." It is an unnamed, crowded place where the human questions and observations found in almost any city--past, present, and future--ring out with urgency. These poems--in turn elegiac, celebratory, haunting, grave, and joyful--give hum to our modern experience, to those caught up in the City's immensity, and announce the arrival of a major new contemporary poet.
The urban spaces explored in Miller’s third collection (after The Book of Props) are less evocative of Whitman’s tumultuous Mannahatta than of T.S. Eliot’s Unreal City,” peopled not by rushing pedestrians and aggressive cabbies but by shadows, ghostly memories, and the poet’s own brooding consciousness. Miller’s unnamed city seems born of dreams but not aspirations; it has a past but not a recorded history. Everywhere there is the sense of time irretrievably lost (Porchlights/ coming on, the theater/ boarded and sealed shut/ with the posters of exhausted shows”), perhaps for the better. Like Eliot, Miller reveals a flair for haunting imagery, noting the panoramic dark of a rail car” or the neoned, crisscrossing,/ paperflecked streets,” but it is the metaphysics of silent despair that he captures most effectively: The houses one by one abandoning, each as if a wave has rushed inside./ Withdrawing, it leaves a trail of possessions in the yard.” Miller’s meditative approach to his subject may seem sedate, almost ethereal, but his attempts to link the symbolic significance of cities with the deep human needs that made them inevitable are often riveting.” Library Journal
"Wayne Miller has written an astonishing book-length sequence whose ambitions remind me of nothing less than those of George Oppen's Of Being Numerous and Zbigniew Herbert's Report from the Besieged City. His city is utterly of our own dumbfounding moment in history, but its gravitational pull would feel familiar to the citizens of ancient Rome or Edo or Machu Picchu. This book moved and entertained me in the oddest, most compelling ways. Miller's scope is as large as anyone's in his generation." David Rivard, author of Otherwise Elsewhere and Sugartown
The city where Miller’s third book takes place is decidedly modern. . . . At the same time it is vexed by some ancient concerns: it is, perhaps has long been, a city at war. . . .It is a post-9/11, post-imperial, unjust city, one that tries to get past persistent fears, to find a space for private life while sirens choke back their warnings,’ and silence curls inside the shell that refused to explode.’” Publishers Weekly