Joseph Robert Mills

Writer and Faculty Member, University of North Carolina School of the Arts
Spin Cycle Guide to NC Wineries Academic Criticism Angels, Thieves . . .
Joseph Mills has degrees in literature from the University of Chicago (B.A.), the University of New Mexico (M.A.), and the University of California-Davis (Ph.D).  As he was working on his third one, his mother asked, "Don't you know that stuff yet?"

A faculty member at the  University of North Carolina School of the Arts, he holds the Susan Burress Wall Distinguished Professorship in the Humanities.  His published work includes poetry, fiction, drama, and criticism.  

He has published five volumes of poetry with Press 53: This Miraculous Turning, Sending Christmas Cards to Huck and Hamlet; Love and Other Collisions Angels, Thieves, and Winemakers, and Somewhere During the Spin Cycle .  

Joseph and his wife, Danielle Tarmey, are the authors of A Guide to North Carolina's Wineries (John F. Blair, Publisher).  The second edition was released in 2007.

He blogs about various topics at  "The Practice of Attention" and occasionally posts on Twitter @JosephRMills
This Miraculous Turning

In general, poets are not saints, yet in his quiet but unapologetic intelligence, his passion, humility, and wisdom, and his understanding of good and evil, Joseph Mills gives us poems that could change the world. Deeply affecting, these poems show us how to live with one another. "I'm searching," he says, "for the right forms for these poems, ones as simple and solid as wooden bowls." Everything here is true: measured, faultless. You do not want to miss this book. This Miraculous Turning is a bona fide miracle.

— Kelly Cherry, former Poet Laureate of Virginia and author of The Life and Death of Poetry: Poems

Joseph Mills writes the best kind of poems about family. These are unsentimental, frank pieces that open from the private to the public, reminding us that we are more than parents and children, but are members of a world that we create and inhabit together. Beautifully crafted, sometimes humorous, and often heartbreaking, This Miraculous Turning is a poignant meditation on family, race, religion, and identity in modern America.

— Kelly Davio, author of Burn This House

Order This Miraculous Turning

Angels, Thieves, and Winemakers, Second Edition

Buy Second Edition
ANGELS, THIEVES, AND WINEMAKERS was called by the Washington Post "a must have for wine-lovers" and the poem "The Good Nights" was featured on Garrison Keillor's "The Writer's Almanac."

Hear Keillor read "The Good Nights"

What a few have said about the first edition

"Angels, Thieves, and Winemakers is a collection of revelations, truths to be found in and about wine. Witty, mordant, melancholy, funny—these bright poems fix and illumine the many moods we may encounter in a bottle of happy red. I shall recommend this volume most heartedly, saying, 'Here, I think this / will help make things a little better.' "—  Fred Chappell

"Talk of wine and you talk of life … as these poems do with wit and wisdom and a little wistfulness. They are poems to read aloud, best enjoyed with glass in hand and shared in the company of friends and fellow wine lovers." Barbra Ensrud, "The Cork Report"

This book "is filled with wit and vivacity.  His poems on wine and the world of wine are sometimes sincere homage, sometimes social satire, sometimes spirtual longing.  These poems reflect a sensuous love of the material world and an unrepentant commitment to play in the face of what we are told to take serious." -- David Romtvedt, Wyoming Poet Laureate

Sending Christmas Cards to Huck and Hamlet

A review in Our State magazine

Sending Christmas Cards to Huck and Hamlet
by Joe Mills is one of the most original collections of poetry I have ever encountered--original because it treats the whole world of books, poems, stories, fairy tales not only as being somehow more real than reality itself but as our most important lifelines to reality itself.  In Mills's created world of Huck and Hamlet and Sleeping Beauty,  Rapunzel  and the Seven Dwarves, we laugh with each surprise, each ironic insight, each portrait of a world that is funnier, whackier, and more completely alive than our world.  There is about this book a sense of everything happening for the first time, even those literary events that seem to happen over and over.  What a pleasure this book gives the reader.

-       -  Anthony Abbott, award-winning author of five books of poetry, including If Words Could Save Us and the Pulitzer nominated The Girl in the Yellow Raincoat

Buy Sending Christmas Cards to Huck and Hamlet

 Love and Other Collisions

"The Guardian" and "The Husband" featured on "The Writer's Almanac" with Garrison Keillor

Buy the book on Amazon here.

"Joseph Mills is a poet who understands that Love’s great nemesis isn’t Hate but Time. Time and again, the poems in Love and Other Collisions explore the inherent pain created when Love and Time meet. This book stands as a chronicle of the speaker’s growth from a hopeful youth to a father carving out the best life he can for his own children to a man who is a helpless witness to his mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease. In the words of one poem, Mills “show[s] how you [can] make something of your life if only you [can] stand enough punishment over the years.” Love and Other Collisions is at once ambitious, unflinching, and tender—It is definitely a must-read." 
—Shaindel Beers, author of A Brief History of Time (Salt Publishing, 2009)


Contact Joseph Mills
2015 Readings and Appearances:

March 14: Women Writers of the Triad, Greensboro Library

April 4:  Wordsomnia, Scuppernong Books

April 18: NC Writers Network, spring conference

May 16: Sweet Home Carolina Winery

May 30: NC Poetry Society, Awards Day, Weymouth

October 10: Your Daily Poem Poetry Conference

2014 Readings and Appearances:

January 11: Poetry in Plain Sight, Barnhill's Books.  1 pm.

January 28: W-S New Museum, Garden Club talk, 11:15 am

February 15:  Wine, Jazz, and Poetry, Community Arts Cafe, 8 pm

March 8:  Writers Group of the Triad, Two Workshops.  "Writing As
Luggage" and "Working in the Delta."

April 3:  24 Hour Read-a-thon Scuppernong Books, 3:40 slot.

April 24:  "On the Same Poem," Forsyth County Public Library

May 3:  Press 53 Day.  Reading celebration, Scuppernong Books,
5 pm

May 9:  Guest Bartender, Scuppernong Books

September 2. Outta the Bag, Winston- Salem, noon.

September 6:  BookMarks.  Poetry Cafe.  3:30

September 23. Outta the Bag, Winston- Salem, noon.

September 28: McIntyre's Books, Fearrington Village

October 2:  Book Release Party, Artworks Gallery, Winston-Salem

October 11:  Scuppernong's, Greensboro

October 18:  West End Poetry Festival, 3 - 4:25, Carborro

November 11:  Poetry Hickory.  Tastefull Beans

November 17:  "What Does It Mean to Be Southern" panel with Ed
Southern and Cheryl Harry, Winston-Salem New Museum

December 7:  Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh

December 13:  Second Saturday, Tate Street Coffee House, 7 pm

Some Selected Work Available on the Web

Blog:  "The Practice of Attention"

Poems based on Shakespeare stage directions in Upstart

"Simple Architecture" in storySouth

"Biting Baby Jesus," a story:  Construction Magazine 

"Midway":  Stymie:  a journal of sports and literature

"Exit Running, Attendants Follow" in Metazen.

 Four pieces of Flash about teeth:  Connotation Press

Through This School and Baking with My Daughter and Standing Before Shelves of Cookbooks featured on Your Daily Poem

An Open Letter to Poets in Prime Number Magazine.
Somewhere During the Spin Cycle


In a voice both rueful and companionable, Joe Mills inscribes through these poems the wavering circle of everyday life, the center of which is everywhere and the circumference nowhere -- exactly the radius of the human

heart. - John P. O'Grady

Learn More

    A Guide to North Carolina's Wineries 
       by Joseph Mills and Danielle Tarmey 


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