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E. Ethelbert Miller


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E. Ethelbert Miller is a literary activist. He is board chair of the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS). He is also a board member of The Writer's Center and editor of Poet Lore magazine. The author of several collections of poems, his last book How We Sleep On The Nights We Don't Make Love (Curbstone Press, 2004) was an Independent Publisher Award Finalist. Miller received the 1995 O.B. Hardison Jr. Poetry Prize. He was awarded in 1996 an honorary doctorate of literature from Emory & Henry College. In 2003 his memoir Fathering Words: The Making of An African American Writer (St. Martin's Press, 2000) was selected by the DC WE READ for its one book, one city program sponsored by the D.C. Public Libraries. In 2004 Miller was awarded a Fulbright to visit Israel. Poets & Writers presented him with the 2007 Barnes & Noble/Writers for Writers Award. Mr. Miller is often heard on National Public Radio (NPR).

E. Ethelbert Miller is available for readings as well as conducting poetry and memoir writing workshops. To contact him directly for interviews or to set up an event, please email:

E. Ethelbert Miller's website is updated daily with the wit and wisdom that only Ethelbert can provide. We encourage you to view it here: and while you are there, subscribe to E-Notes!

Photo by Farrah Hassen

E. Ethelbert Miller will receive the Mayor's Arts Award for Distinguished Honor at the 31st Annual Mayor’s Arts Awards on Thursday, September 22nd, 2016. Admission is free and open tot he public. For more information, click HERE

AWP awarded its George Garrett Award for Outstanding Community Service in Literature to E. Ethelbert Miller in March of 2016. For more information click HERE.

Check out E Ethelbert Miller on The Marc Steiner Show breaking it down about the forthcoming President Trump 1/6/2017

Purchasing Links


The Fifth Inning
By E. Ethelbert Miller
Publisher: PM Press/Busboys and Poets
Published: March 2009
ISBN: 978-1-60486-062-7
Format: Hardcover
Page Count: 160
Dimensions: 5 by 8
Subjects: Memoir, Politics


The 5th Inning is poet and literary activist E. Ethelbert Miller's second memoir. Coming after Fathering Words: The Making of an African American Writer (published in 2000), this book finds Miller returning to baseball, the game of his youth, in order to find the metaphor that will provide the measurement of his life. Almost 60, he ponders whether his life can now be entered into the official record books as a success or failure.

The 5th Inning is one man's examination of personal relationships, depression, love and loss. This is a story of the individual alone on the pitching mound or in the batters box. It's a box score filled with remembrance. It's a combination of baseball and the blues.

Praise for The 5th Inning:
“Traditionally, it's viewed as a female occupation, to strip away the layers and examine the experience of relationships with a partner, with children, within one's own interior emotional life.  Here comes a strong, real male voice, exploring the terrifying territory of growing older--in a marriage, in a family, in one's body.  Ethelbert Miller writes with naked honesty and courage about what it is to be a man no longer young.  Youth may have left him.  Passion has not.” --Joyce Maynard, author of At Home in the World, on The 5th Inning

Praise for Previous Works:

"Ethelbert Miller is one of the most significant and influential poets of our time." --Gwendolyn Brooks on Where are the Love Poems for Dictators?

"Not since Langston Hughes has an African American poet so ably combined the oral and literary traditions of his people to produce a collective poetic portrait of a singular Black man searching for love in a world gone awry." --Douglas Brinkley on Whispers, Secrets and Promises 

"Ethelbert Miller brings an accomplished poet's stunning language to this important memoir, and no one writes more eloquently about the lives--the triumphs and dilemmas--of black American men than he does." --Charles Johnson, author of Middle Passage on Fathering Words

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For a calendar of speaking events, please click here 

The latest news

  • Obama’s War and God's other Eden
    As we move out of August Summer into the Fall, look for the Antiwar Movement to launch their plans. Afghanistan is the new Iraq.It's not like Obama pulled a surprise from his hat. He told us he was going to focus on Afghanistan. The more troops we...
  • Beating The Old Drum Again?
    I just reviewed President Obama's speech to the Ghanaian Parliament. What he gave was almost an old campaign speech, in other words if it plays in America it might just play in Accra. Obama was in lecture mode. The Ghanaian Parliament reminded me ...
  • Speaking on the Bob Edwards Show
    Check here to hear the show, and my thoughts about The Fifth Inning. And don't forget I'll be on live on WPFW (DC Pacifica station) on Monday May 25th at 7pm to discuss my work with host Abdul Ali and take phone calls.  You can listen online ...
  • Speaking on NPR: How My Mother's Love Teaches Me
    Weekend Edition Sunday, May 10, 2009 · In celebration of Mother's Day, writer and poet E. Ethelbert Miller reflects on the importance of mothers who have shaped our lives. Miller is director of the African-American Resources Center at Howar...
  • 5th Inning Named Best Memoir of Spring
    Book Review Editor Grace Cavalieri has named The Fifth Inning as the best memoir of Spring 2009! To see who else made the list you can go to the The Monserrat Review. And to buy your own copy? Just click on the image!

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Interviews and Articles



(Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)Artists in the age of Trump: E. Ethelbert Miller
by Lavanya Ramanathan
Washington Post
July 27th, 2017
(Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Poet, author and former commissioner for the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities. He has received several fellowships and awards, including the D.C. Mayor’s Arts Award.

If you’re an engaged citizen, you stay engaged, regardless of who wins an election. My poem (“This Is What I Want to Tell You”) was an outgrowth of me just happening to see an old friend who happened to be an immigration lawyer. And as we were talking about what was going on, he made reference to a case he was handling in Virginia. They are arresting people right here.

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thumbThe Fifth Inning: A Review
by Paul Buhle
January 28th, 2013

Ethelbert Miller spent so much of his life taking care of other people, from his mother to the poets and fiction writers visiting Howard, and, naturally, also his family, that perhaps he never appreciated how much we, who saw him in action only from time to time, appreciated him for what he was doing. It looked so natural because he was obviously so good at it.

Now he's afraid -- not ashamed like the rest of us to admit being afraid -- that he's the shortstop who failed to touch second amidst a double play. Even if the umpires didn't notice. He also thinks (slipping back into the role that I remember best) that he should now contemplate his very last pitch. Fastball, curve, knuckler? What would Satchel Page throw if he had one more pitch to throw?

Unanswered questions. But beautifully proposed. This is real E. Ethelbert Miller and a little book to treasure.

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thumbE. Ethelbert Miller on Writerscast
by David Wilk
June 21, 2012
Filed under Non-Fiction

Poets' memoirs are sometimes brittle and too carefully built to sustain a personal story.  Ethelbert is not that kind of poet.  He's active and alive in every moment, and brings his readers right into his head and heart.  This is a beautifully constructed and written piece of personal writing that I hope will find a audience far beyond the literary community.  What Ethelbert has to say about being human and growing older is important for all of us to hear.

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thumbStealing Third: An Interview with E. Ethelbert Miller
By Carl Hoffman
The Jerusalem Post
May 31, 2012

Well, as I say in one of my poems, whenever you wake up, you need to commit yourself to fixing something that’s broken. Even if it’s just an electric coffee pot. But you’ve got to live your life that way, even if it’s just small things you do. You have to believe that today is going to be better than yesterday. And always have hope for tomorrow. I did two classes at Bar-Ilan today. In one class, I was talking about the writer James Baldwin, who had visited Israel back in the early 1960s. And I was talking about some of the things he saw when he was here. The problem of having to bring people together does not disappear. We just have to be sure that we’re always up to discussing them and making things better. James Baldwin was here as a guest of the government. He not only visited Israel, but also spent a lot of time writing in Turkey.


thumbStealing Third: An Interview with E. Ethelbert Miller
By Shonda Buchanan
The Writer's Chronicle
December, 2009

E. Ethelbert Miller is a well-known chronicler of black literary life in Washington, DC and across the country. He is a consummate documenter, as well as a writer of poetry and nonfiction....

E. Ethelbert Miller has found himself in the role of storyteller for his father, brother, and several friends simply by outliving them. In essence, writing The 5th Inning is tantamount to stealing third base, and entering certain moments and people into the record books for good.


thumbPoets at the Crossroads
By Brenda M. Greene
Neworld Review

Although many youthful baby boomers may beg to differ, Miller believes that life begins a trajectory toward the end at around 50. On aging, he reflects that: ”Someone might ask about your diet or mention how you don’t look your age. But you know your age. You’re more aware of it each year when you complete an application. There are fewer boxes to check where it says ‘list age.’" And he ponders, “When do you stop reading horoscopes or simply accept the cards handed to you? How many times can you avoid death?”

He also says that as he gets older “the poems appear less and less. The personal is prose.” And he riffs on the lyrical nature of his memoir: “This memoir has a jazz feel to it. Is it BeBob? Parker and Diz? I like the energy that flows from one chapter into another.”

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Featured Artist E. Ethelbert Miller
DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities 

DC Literary activist E. Ethelbert Miller is DCCAH’s featured artist of the week. Miller is a renowned poet that has practiced in DC for almost 40 years. ... In 1979, Marion Barry declared September 28 “E. Ethelbert Miller Day.” He has also been awarded the Mayor’s Art Award for literature in 1982, the Public Humanities Award of  the DC Humanities Council in 1988, and the Columbia Merit Award from the literary community of Washington in 1993. 


Off Season Pastimes: The Fifth Inning

"People ask me what I do in winter when there's no baseball. I'll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring." (Rogers Hornsby)

Still 148 days until the 2010 season begins. What can the avid college baseball fan do in the off-season to stave off the dreaded baseball-deprivation blues?

Read a Baseball Book: The 5th Inning, by E. Ethelbert Miller
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thumbE. Ethelbert Miller's 5th Inning

Poet and literary activist E. Ethelbert Miller’s new memoir “The Fifth Inning” is now available. Simply put, it’s beautiful. Ethelbert, who I am honored to call my friend, tells a story we all need to hear. He reflects on his own journey toward the end of life. He considers loss, death, memory, that long look back when most of one’s life has already taken place.  He faces all these realities without flinching-- but also without heaviness. He brings his characteristic hopefulness, the intricacies of baseball and the blues, which have enriched his life for years. 

He tells stories from his adulthood in Washington, D.C., his home since coming here to college at Howard. He remembers various places he lived, how those places made him the father, husband, and poet he is. He remembers friends who have sustained him, those still living and those who are gone. He considers the difficulties and joys of fatherhood and marriage. He tells stories from which all of us can learn. He considers what effects 9/11 and the Iraq War have had on our society and he considers aloud what it means to write during a “time of war.”

Ethelbert’s prose is as tight and rich as his poetry. I sometimes sit stunned at what he can do in a poem, in ten lines! Here, in a relatively brief work of prose, he raises good questions and thoughtful, unsentimental insights. As one who has just reached 50, I know something of what he writes. “When a person becomes 50 or approaches the years that follow, his story is almost over.”

None of us wants to think of our time as “almost over” but in truth, it’s always slipping away. No reason to be sad or depressed, although those feelings might come at times. Rather, it makes sense to reflect on the richness of life. He writes at the end of the memoir: “Too many of us confine ourselves to boxes and cages. Even if the sky is gray, refuse to give into the darkness.” Ethelbert’s telling of these stories is a beautiful and magnificent refusal. I’m grateful he continues to pitch, to play, and to write.

The 5th Inning is published by Busboys and Poets and PM Press. 

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thumbA Poet's Confession
By Jonetta Rose Barras
Examiner Columnist
3/31/09 9:23 AM

I know this man, I assert, picking up E. Ethelbert Miller’s new memoir, The 5th Inning (PM Press/Busboys and Poets), released earlier this month. I have known him since I first arrived in the District wearing a wild Afro hairstyle and an attitude to match.

But after reading the book, I realize the fallacy about the breadth of my knowledge. Everyone has secrets, deep and personal, aggressively protected from others’ discovery. And then, there is the soul, a shy, intensely private creature...

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