WKU President Gary A. Ransdell has announced the designation of English Professor Mary Ellen Miller as University Poet Laureate.
“Mary Ellen is an obvious choice to serve as WKU’s Poet Laureate,” said English Department Head Rob Hale. “Mary Ellen has championed poetry at WKU for over 53 years.”
Miller has taught countless creative writing, poetry reading and poetry writing classes. She has mentored and molded poets from across the Commonwealth and across the nation.
“This is a singular honor for a singular individual,” said Larry Snyder, Dean of the Potter College of Arts & Letters. “The college, university and community have all been blessed by her many gifts and graces lavishly shared with all of us.”
Miller advocated for poetry in the civic realm by developing The Winter Workshop, which has brought celebrated writers from around the nation to work with poets from the region. She produced and wrote the acclaimed film Poetry: A Beginner’s Guide, an outstanding video introducing the public to poetry. She created the Celebration of Writing in memory of her husband and Kentucky Writer Hall of Fame member Jim Wayne Miller, an annual event that celebrates writing in the region and brings renowned authors to present their work to the community.
Miller also co-founded the Center for Robert Penn Warren Studies at WKU, a center celebrating the life and work of a Kentucky native son and the nation’s first poet laureate.
“Mary Ellen is an excellent poet herself, and has been publishing for more than half-a-century,” said Provost David Lee. “The list of Mary Ellen’s efforts on behalf of poetry is seemingly endless.”
As Sallie Bingham noted in her introduction to The Poet’s Wife Speaks, Miller’s award-winning collection: “Biting into these crisp, delicious poems is like biting into a fresh, hard apple: the sweetness is intensified by the sharpness. Here is the fruit of wisdom, hard-won.”
Contact: Mary Ellen Miller, (270) 745-5721