Circle Square Triangle, David Miller’s autobiography in poetry brings to mind the renewing spiritual force of geometric forms, their haunting presence musically and visually in this poet whose alchemical creativity is as realized in jazz improvisation and visual art as in poetry. In fact, this fragmentary distillation of his life process celebrates the lyricism heralded by a circle, the foundational ground of a square, and the circulatory map of a triangle. David Miller’s poetry achieves an intellectual and spiritual depth in this groundbreaking book that is a lasting gift to be cherished again and again.
Early in this profound and vulnerable collection, we learn that the speaker is tracing their long life: “amongst others/I hated & those I loved”. David Miller’s collection is cinematic short-hand correspondence for a poet’s accounting (“ah but I telephoned/& telephoned//& telephoned”) that feels like familiar comfort. We will read into these admirably accessible poems our own isolated selves (and others) whose observations and thoughts play out in the scaffolding and checkerboards of month to month. (As one poem presents, “mirror/or glass”?) For me, a David Miller poem meets at a shared point, call it a wooden table with few crumbs or an intersection with hardly any evidence of people, between a Edward Hopper and a David Hockney scene—observed from a neighboring fire escape. Odd doors, strange meals, ships and hotels, visitors and gentrification, a traveler’s retelling, David Miller’s three syllable stanzas (often) pack the eye and ear with fleeting things—many of which, in Miller’s collecting, are still here. Nothing now or before dreams-up the fading past or present in the briefest measures like a David Miller poem, like a poem that was the gentlest dog bringing into the house something you thought would be ugly that’s now, from all you have, something rare and quite beautiful.
This evocative and elliptical autobiography, full of images and narratives, is, as the subtitle indicates, a series of fragments that range widely and often surprisingly. Each reader will assemble the pieces differently and that is part of David Miller’s generosity.
David Miller has been writing some of the most beautiful, adventurous and intelligent poetry he has ever written in the last few years, which makes the present (poetry is always in the present) a blessed time for readers like myself. Each new work astonishes and delights.
David Miller returns to the bitter waters of reflection and dream with new insight and breath-taking control.
David Miller was born in Melbourne, Australia, but has lived in the UK for many years. His recent publications include Black, Grey and White: A Book of Visual Sonnets (Veer Books, 2011), Reassembling Still: Collected Poems (Shearsman, 2014), Spiritual Letters (Contraband Books, 2017), Towards a Menagerie (Chax Press, 2019), Matrix I & II (Guillemot Press, 2020), Vitruvian Shadows (The Red Ceilings Press, 2020) and Some Other Days and Nights (above/ground press, 2021). He has compiled British Poetry Magazines 1914-2000: A History and Bibliography of ‘Little Magazines’ (with Richard Price, The British Library / Oak Knoll Press, 2006) and edited The Lariat and Other Writings by Jaime de Angulo (Counterpoint, 2009) and The Alchemist’s Mind: a book of narrative prose by poets (Reality Street, 2012). He is also a musician and a member of the Frog Peak Music collective., and has performed and recorded as part of The Mind Shop and with Louise Landes Levi, Ken White, Rod Boucher and others. Previous books and chapbooks have appeared from Enitharmon, Gaberbocchus, Arc, Stride, Reality Street, Burning Deck, Singing Horse, Chax, hawkhaven and Harbor Mountain.