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.
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.