Skip to main content

Bruce Kellner Vassar Miller Papers

Identifier: 2000-006

This collection includes correspondence, creative works, clippings, and printed matter written by or related to the poet Vassar Miller. The materials fall between the years 1969 and 2000. Included in this collection are poems and other works by Vassar Miller, critical essays about Vassar Miller, photocopied newspaper clippings, and a typescript of Bruce Kellner's play about Vassar Miller, Swimming on Concrete.

Several folders include correspondence related to Vassar Miller's care in a nursing facility in 1996.


  • 1970-2000


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access:

Open for research. The envelope in Box 1, Folder 7 is closed to the public until after the donor's death.

Conditions Governing Use:

Special Collections owns the physical items in our collections, but copyright normally belongs to the creator of the materials or their heirs. The researcher has full responsibility for determining copyright status, obtaining permission to publish from copyright holders, and abiding by current copyright laws when publishing or displaying copies of Special Collections material in print or electronic form. For more information, consult the appropriate librarian. Reproduction decisions will be made by Special Collections staff on a case-by-case basis.


0.50 linear feet

Biographical Information:

Vassar Miller was born in Houston in 1924, the daughter of a prominent architect. She began writing as a child, composing on a typewriter due to the cerebral palsy which affected her speech and movement. She attended the University of Houston, receiving her B.A. and M.A. in English.

In 1956, Miller published her first volume of poetry, Adam's Footprint. Her poems, most of which dealt with either her strong religious faith or her experiences as a person with a disability, were widely praised for their rigorous formality, clarity, and emotional impact. In 1961 Miller was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for her collection Wage War on Silence. Over the course of a literary career which spanned almost forty years, Miller published ten volumes of poetry in all. An outspoken advocate for the rights and dignity of the handicapped, Miller also edited a collection of poetry and short stories about persons with disabilities titled Despite This Flesh.

Miller received many awards and accolades for her poetry in her home state. Three of her books won the annual poetry prize of the Texas Institute of Letters. In 1982 and 1988 Miller was named Poet Laureate of Texas, and in 1997 she was named to the Texas Women's Hall of Fame by the Governor's Commission for Women.

Vassar Miller died in 1998.

Major Works:

If I Had Wheels or Love. Dallas, Tex.: Southern Methodist University Press, 1991.

Editor, Despite This Flesh. Austin, Tex.: University of Texas Press, 1985.

Struggling to Swim on Concrete. New Orleans, La.: New Orleans Poetry Journal Press, 1984.

Selected and New Poems, 1950-1980. Austin, Tex.: Latitudes Press, 1981.

Approaching Nada. Houston, Tex.: Wings Press, 1977.

Small Change. Houston, Tex.: Wings Press, 1976.

If I Could Sleep Deeply Enough. New York: Liveright, 1974.

Onions and Roses. Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 1968.

My Bones Being Wiser. Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 1963.

Wage War on Silence. Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 1960.

Adam's Footprint. New Orleans, La.: New Orleans Poetry Journal, 1956.

Acquisition Information:

This collection was donated by Bruce Kellner in November 2000.

Processing Information:

Julie Grob, 2001

Guide to the Bruce Kellner Vassar Miller Papers
Julie Grob
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the University of Houston Libraries Special Collections Repository

University of Houston Libraries Special Collections
MD Anderson Library
4333 University Drive
Houston TX 77204-2000 USA