Bruce Kellner Vassar Miller Papers
Vassar Miller was born in Houston in 1924, the daughter of a prominent architect. She began writing as a child, composing on a typewriter due to the cerebral palsy which affected her speech and movement. She attended the University of Houston, receiving her B.A. and M.A. in English.
In 1956, Miller published her first volume of poetry, Adam's Footprint. Her poems, most of which dealt with either her strong religious faith or her experiences as a person with a disability, were widely praised for their rigorous formality, clarity, and emotional impact. In 1961 Miller was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for her collection Wage War on Silence. Over the course of a literary career which spanned almost forty years, Miller published ten volumes of poetry in all. An outspoken advocate for the rights and dignity of the handicapped, Miller also edited a collection of poetry and short stories about persons with disabilities titled Despite This Flesh.
Miller received many awards and accolades for her poetry in her home state. Three of her books won the annual poetry prize of the Texas Institute of Letters. In 1982 and 1988 Miller was named Poet Laureate of Texas, and in 1997 she was named to the Texas Women's Hall of Fame by the Governor's Commission for Women.
Vassar Miller died in 1998.
Bruce Kellner is Emeritus Professor of English at Millersville University, near Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He is the author/editor of over a dozen books on literature and several plays. His play Swimming on Concrete, which was based on the writings of Vassar Miller, was produced in February 2000 at the Theater of the Seventh Sister in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Kellner met Vassar Miller in 1974, when he arranged a poetry reading of her work at Millersville. That led to several other readings on various college and university campuses and at the 1978 American Medical Association conference. Kellner and Miller enjoyed a lengthy correspondence, in which Miller offered rare insights into her work, and an intimate friendship.
This collection includes correspondence, creative works, clippings, and printed matter written by or related to the poet Vassar Miller. The materials fall between the years 1969 and 2000. Included in this collection are poems and other works by Vassar Miller, critical essays about Vassar Miller, photocopied newspaper clippings, and a typescript of Bruce Kellner's play about Vassar Miller, Swimming on Concrete.
Several folders include correspondence related to Vassar Miller's care in a nursing facility in 1996.
Open for research. The envelope in Box 1, Folder 7 is closed to the public until after the donor's death.
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Bruce Kellner Vassar Miller Papers, Courtesy of Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries.
This collection was donated by Bruce Kellner in November 2000.
Julie Grob, 2001