Losing My Neighbor Miller Williams

Of course I’d known of him, Miller Williams. In the 1990s, liv­ing in Lit­tle Rock, I was relearn­ing how to read verse. He was an Arkansas poetry icon, along with Maya Angelou and John Gould Fletcher. We claim a good share of song­writ­ers as well. Miller died Jan. 1, 2015, at age 84.

• • •

The documentary series "Men & Women of Distinction" of the Arkansas Educational Television Network featured poet Miller Williams. The half-hour video was premiered in November 2010 at the University of Arkansas Global Campus auditorium in Fayetteville. Afterward, Williams was congratulated during a reception and posed for pictures. Here, Ben Pollock (from left), Christy Pollock, Miller Williams, Crescent Dragonwagon and Amy Wilson. Photo by Dwain Cromwell

The doc­u­men­tary series Men & Women of Dis­tinc­tion on the Arkansas Edu­ca­tional Tele­vi­sion Net­work fea­tured poet Miller Williams. The half-hour video was pre­miered in Novem­ber 2010 at the Uni­ver­sity of Arkansas Global Cam­pus in Fayet­teville. After­ward, Williams was con­grat­u­lated dur­ing a recep­tion and posed for pic­tures. Here, Ben Pol­lock (from left), Christy Pol­lock, Miller Williams, Cres­cent Drag­onwagon and Amy Wil­son.
Photo by Dwain Cromwell

In early 1999, My Beloved and I found our offer accepted on a 1961 house in Fayet­teville, under a mile north­west of the Uni­ver­sity. The own­ers, Jake and Carol, were mov­ing to a condo in town, he hav­ing retired as an agri­cul­ture pro­fes­sor. We came over to meet them. The women talked, and Jake led me out the front door. Lean­ing against the iron rail­ing of the nar­row porch, Jake pointed across the street. “Aren’t you a word guy, since you work in news­pa­pers?” Jake asked. “You ever heard of Miller Williams? That’s his house.”

• • •

A few weeks later, I’m climb­ing down from the attic, whose door is in the carport’s ceil­ing, where I’d been stor­ing now-empty boxes. A bald­ing man with a trim gray beard is stand­ing there. I jump. “I didn’t mean to star­tle you, I’m Miller. We live kiddy-cornered from you. Jor­dan thought you could use these. [It was a paper plate of home­made cook­ies and two cold sodas.] We didn’t know what you liked so I chose a can of Coke and one a Sprite. Come over any­time. We have wine about 5.”

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