About Ben Miller

Ben Miller is an essayist, fiction writer, and the creator of hybrid works that combine visuals and text. After attending Cornell College (Mount Vernon, Iowa) he received an M.A. from New York University, studying under E.L. Doctorow, John A. Williams, Wesley Brown, 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). The book was short-listed for the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing.

http://www.riverbendchronicle.com

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. Seven 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.

https://www.radcliffe.harvard.edu/news/press-releases/50-fellows-30-disciplines-and-1-year

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. So far it has resulted in five 81-page segments melding word and image: Illuminations by the Slice, Giant Miniature IlluminationsThe Luminous Dark—Landscapes Found and Lost, The Shrapnossary and The Hot Sea Scroll.

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

http://www.radcliffe.harvard.edu/news/press-releases/schlesinger-library-provides-unprecedented-grant-support.

In 2018 he led a Radcliffe Institute exploratory seminar entitled “Creating a Living Archive of Shared Humanity: The Fritz Bauer Library / Database of Remembrance and Human Rights.” The event gathered scholars from a variety of disciplines on the Harvard campus to discuss this nascent endeavor. A collaboration with German historian Irmtrud Wojak, the project aims to document “humanity’s extraordinary stories of resistance in order to preserve human dignity and to create a more just and humane world.” (Fritz Bauer, an attorney, was the driving force behind the Auschwitz trails in Germany in the early 1960s.)

The first volume in the library–Full of Hunger and Full of Bread: The World of Jura Soyfer 1912-1939 by Dorothy James–was published (in German and English editions) in 2021. It recounts the life of the Austrian novelist and composer Jura Soyfer who perished of typhoid fever at the Buchenwald concentration camp at age 28.

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

In 2021 an unpublished work–Meanwhile, in the Dronx… (a novel set in an invented 6th borough of NYC)–was named as a finalist for the PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction.

https://pen.org/pen-bellwether-prize/

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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