About Ben Miller

Ben Miller is an essayist and fiction writer. After attending Cornell College (Mount Vernon, Iowa) he graduated from the New York University writing program, studying under E.L. Doctorow, John A. Williams and Luisa Valenzuela.

He is the author of the nonfiction work River Bend Chronicle: The Junkification of a Boyhood Idyll amid the Curious Glory of Urban Iowa (Lookout Books, University of North Carolina Wilmington).


His prose has been published in many journals, including Kenyon Review, New England Review, Yale Review, AGNI, Ecotone, Raritan, Antioch Review, Fiction InternationalSouthern Review, Harvard Review, and One Story. Six of his essays have been cited as “Notable” by Best American Essays and another, “Bix and Flannery,” was chosen to appear in the anthology by Louis Menand. Chapter 12 of it all melts down to this: a novel in timelines appears in Best American Experimental Writing 2020, a volume edited by Carmen Maria Machado and Joyelle McSweeney.

Miller’s national awards include creative writing fellowships from the NEA and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University.


Currently he is developing a number of new prose projects. Cage Dies Bird Flies, a multi-phase collaboration with painter Dale Williams is also underway, as well as the public art project Mural Speaks!—an attempt to translate the famous American poem “The Red Wheelbarrow” into the 140 plus languages currently spoken in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. To date over 100 translations have been collected.

Miller returned to Harvard in 2017 as the recipient of a research grant from the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America.


In 2018 he led a Radcliffe Institute exploratory seminar entitled “Creating a Living Archive of Shared Humanity: FB Library / Database of Remembrance and Human Rights.” The aim of this nascent endeavor–a collaboration with historian Irmtrud Wojak–is to document “humanity’s extraordinary stories of resistance in order to preserve human dignity and to create a more just and humane world.” The first volume in the library–Full of Hunger and Full of Bread: The World of Jura Soyfer 1912-1939 by Dorothy James–is currently in production.

In 2020 his work was supported by a career development grant from the South Dakota Arts Council.

He is married to the poet Anne Pierson Wiese, author of Floating City, and recipient the Walt Whitman Award from the American Academy of Poets, as well as the Amy Lowell Traveling Poetry Scholarship.

5 thoughts on “About Ben Miller

  1. Ben—I’m midway through your rip-snorting novel and am looking at your former/my current neighborhood in a new, acid-tinged, boffo infected light. I’ve already sent numerous copies of River Bend Chronicle to family, friends and neighbors (a friend who lived on Middle Road up from Jersey Ridge, my two kids now in St. Louis, my Mom who used to live near St. Ambrose, my friend Joe in NYC who went to West etc.) When the trophy for “highest number of impressively off-kilter descriptions per paragraph” is complete, it’s going to your address. Thanks for the serious look at the human heart draped in the clap-trap of everyday life.

  2. Ben, I’ve gotten about 100 pages into the Urban Junkification of a Mainly “Unmitigated Bullshit Town” (as someone else described it — I’ve momentarily forgotten the exact title) and have to say it’s just a damn wonderful work of literature. I’m only 100 pages into it because your sentences, paragraphs, are to be savored, slowly, thoughtfully ingested like a fine cognac. Seriously — great writing. You’re like a midwestern Proust, kinda. The last couple paragraphs about your father at twigmas — powerful and poetic stuff. We may have met, I used to manage the Davenport Co-op Records. I’d like to have a word (or 2) with you — if you have the time, please get in touch. All the best. Joe

  3. Ben,
    My name is Thomas Decker – Marianna was my best friend in in high school and college, and although I am sure you know everything about her life by now from reports of others, I just wanted to let you know that if you ever want additional information about that period in her life, I would be happy to share it with you. I read “River Bend Chronicle” (I am from that areas also) and just wanted to reach out to you – your account was beautiful yet heart breaking in light of the close friendship we shared and the tragedy of her death. I did not know how to contact you, so I found you here. Hoping you are well, sorry if I am intruding, and thank you!

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