Adam David Miller (who, in his later years, liked to be called AD as he was when a child in Orangeburg, SC) died peacefully in his home of over 50 years in Berkeley on Nov. 4. He was 98 years old and was surrounded by family and friends.
In AD’s first memoir, Ticket to Exile, he recalls how, at age 19, he was jailed for passing a note to a white girl. Too intelligent for the Jim-Crow south, AD was forced to leave, embarking on a long journey through life, that ended in Berkeley, California, where he was a teacher, writer, editor, publisher, radio and television producer.
In his second memoir, Fall Rising, published when he was 95, AD describes how, as a naval officer, he was sent to college during World War Two. He writes of his struggles afterwards to find employment, as well his successes, including when he took a Black drama group, the Aldridge Players West, into the deep south at a time when that was still not done. He also recalls an escape from possible violence due to the fortunate appearance of an army convoy.
AD was a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow 1973-4 and traveled widely in Africa, the Caribbean and Mexico, as well as leading many workshops in schools and colleges in the US.
AD taught for many years at Laney College in Oakland, California. While there, he sustained correspondence with many Black notables. He never threw paper away, amassing a collection of letters, playbills, notes and scripts from his time as a program producer at KPFA. Stanford University acquired his archives.
While serving on the Berkeley Arts Commission, AD worked with US poet laureate Robert Hass and others to create the Addison Street Poetry Walk.
As co-founder of Mina Press and founder of Eshu House Publishing, AD was always seeking diverse voices to publish.
In 2011, when he was 90, he was honored by the City of Berkeley who proclaimed a day in his honor, and he enjoys permanent remembrance with a plaque of one of his poems on Addison Street’s poetry walk.
AD won numerous awards, including the Naomi Long Madgett award for his Forever Afternoon collection and first prize at the Artists Embassy International Dancing Poetry Contest, and, in 2008, he was a finalist for the William Saroyan International Prize for writing.
His poetry books are: Sky is a Page, Land Between, Neighborhood and Other Poems, Forever Afternoon, Apocalypse is My Garden, Adam David Miller, A Sampler of His Poems. His two memoirs are Ticket to Exile and Fall Rising. He edited Dices or Black Bones: Black Voices of the Seventies, and co-edited Fresh Ink VI.
AD and his wife, Elise Peeples, were avid supporters of each other’s work and collaborated often. Elise was his devoted care provider in his later years and made sure that he stayed as active as possible.
Over his prodigious lifetime, he married three times and had three daughters. He is survived by his third wife S. Elise Peeples, his daughters Robin Miller and Pemba Pierini, his grandchildren Phillip, David, Michele and Zoe and great-grandchildren Roman and Adriana.
AD’s message to the world:
Keep Sending Love Out
Keep sending love out
where the heart clutches and the soul sings.
keep sending love out,
into the lighted dark, over the fog swept sea,
or where it runs the risk of dying dusty death.
send it where there may not be an echo,
no return. Send love, that magic portent,
that drug of madness, the poet’s bane, some fool’s delight.
Send it where it has never been, a new address.
Keep sending, sending, sending
Those wishing to honor AD are asked to contribute to Black Lives Matter in lieu of flowers. Some in the local poetry community will honor AD on Nov.16 at a Zoom meeting of Poetry Express Berkeley, where he was a member until COVID-19 put a stop to such meetings. For more information about AD, visit his website at www.ADMILLERPOET.com