E. Ethelbert Miller

A Sterling of a Man

whenever
he read
folks
would sit
attentive
waiting
listening

for
“Ma Rainey”
and
“Old Lem”

waiting
for the
tall tales
and lies
told between
poems

there
was always
humor and
wisdom

and
there was
always the
reading
of

“Strong Men”
at the end
of the day

a
poem
of
encouragement

a
poem
about
history and
dignity

one thing
which cannot
be lost

one thing
which cannot
be forgotten

among the
strong men

among
the
keepers
and
believers

among
the
builders
and
the
dreamers

this poet
sterling
brown

was
a
sterling
of
a
man

E. Ethelbert Miller is a literary activist, editor of Poet Lore, and author of several collections of poetry and two memoirs. He currently hosts the weekly morning radio show On the Margin which airs on WPFW-FM 89.3. In April 2015, Miller was inducted into the Washington, DC Hall of Fame, and in 2016, he received the AWP George Garrett Award for Outstanding Community Service in Literature and the DC Mayor's Arts Award for Distinguished Honor. The Collected Poems of E. Ethelbert Miller, published in 2016 by Willow Books, is a comprehensive collection that represents over 40 years of his career as a poet. Miller’s most recent book is If God Invented Baseball, forthcoming by Long River Books in February 2018. To read more by this author, see the Summer 2000 issue, Wartime Issue, DC Places Issue, Evolving City Issue, Split This Rock Issue, Langston Hughes Tribute Issue, and Miller's essay on Sterling A. Brown from the Memorial Issue, and interview with Ed Cox from the Profiles Issue.