A. D. Miller poet

90th birthday-Photo Credit: Bruce Bagnell

About AD 

A.D. Miller was an African American poet born in South Carolina in 1922.  Fall Rising is a sequel to Ticket to Exile which was published by Heyday Books in Berkeley in 2007 a Finalist for Northern California Book Reviewers Award for 2008 and finalist for William Saroyan International Prize for Writing.  When Ticket ends, A. D. is nineteen and has been exiled from Orangeburg, South Carolina for the “crime” of writing a white girl a seven word note: I would like to know you better. For this, he was arrested by two armed policemen, interrogated, charged with “attempted rape,” jailed, and  released only on condition that he leave town.     

A. D. published five books of poetry: The Sky is a Page, (Eshu House Publishing, Berkeley, CA, 2009); Land Between, (Eshu House Publishing, 2000); Apocalypse is My Garden, (Eshu House Publishing, 1997); Forever Afternoon, (Michigan State University Press, 1994: Winner of the first Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award, 1994); Neighborhood and Other Poems, (Mina Press, 1992.)

In the 1960’s, Miller toured with The Aldridge Players West, a theater company he co-founded. They produced and performed  in Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia. In an all- expense paid tour, they performed before standing room only audiences to great applause and standing ovations.

Miller had a B.A., English, Speech, Mathematics; an M.A. English and did post-M.A. work in U.S. Theatre and Dramatic Literature at UC Berkeley. He was an Instructor of English, Creative Writing, and Literature at UC Berkeley from 1987-1991 and at Laney Community College (Oakland, CA) from 1967-1988. He helped establish a Reading Center, Writing Center and Peer Tutoring Center (1969) when he taught at San Francisco State College (now SFSU) from 1962-67. 

Miller worked in northern California for five decades as a teacher, writer, poet, publisher, and radio and television producer.

He lived with his wife of 32 years,Elise Peeples, until his death in November, 2020 at his home of 55 years in Berkeley, California. 


My trip begins

in a slender house

in a thick wood.


Weak light

guides the midwife

as she pulls me out.


Grandma Ozelia shouts,

“Praise the Lord!”


Then grandma’s farm

its cows, pigs, the mule,

and my rabbit


under a pile

of barnyard lumber.


Aunts and uncles 

who tend me

when my mother

has to leave

my father,

and who are soon to join

the 20’s Migration



“Snake holes”

to stand over,

my first punishment

for theft, of my

youngest uncle’s 

elderberry wine.


Then the small town,

many houses, each

we live in for

far too short a time.


My sisters’ books

from school

amo, amas, amat,

they practice 

their Latin lessons

on four-year old me.


The pre-Depression

store we own

one winter;

my step-father

gives credit


to his friends

despite my mother’s 

warning, then

sawmill whistle

lays them all off.


On railroad tracks

kerosene holder

for kitchen stove

drops and smashes 

while moving

to cheaper house;

no money 

to replace.


Barefoot to negro school,

white children torment us

as we pass their place;

never to use public

library or any 


leisure space;

bright enough

to sense a wrong.


Working from age nine

like my buddies

at odd jobs,

after school, week-ends;

Eleven-year old

favorite sister dies;

why, why, why?


Good times, eating

hot candied yams,

butter dripping,


whole wheat rolls

from government issue

flour, a puppy

one whole summer long.


Reading books,

winning a bible verse

contest at ten.


Mulatto-run House

for white men

down the street

where I make 

good money

shining shoes;

madam mistress

to police chief.


Falling from 

every ladder,

fence or tree

I climb, yet

forever climbing.


“That boy live

to see twelve

will be a miracle,”

my mother swears.


I do live

and in my most

Jesus voice


“I must be about

my Father’s business,

now that I’m twelve.”


“You better sit down here

and eat your dinner

before it gets cold.

Father’s business

your big foot,” 

my mother scoffs.


A prophet is never

received well

in his own country,

I remind her.


Like the Rock of Ages

She can not

be moved.

AD's mother
AD's mother
one of his homes in S.C.
One of the homes in which AD lived in South Carolina
AD in Navy
portrait by Jessica Phrogus
Acrylic Portrait of AD by Jessica Phrogus of Berkeley, CA.