Things I Have Withheld

Grove. Sept. 2021. 224p. ISBN 9780802158956. $26. LIT
In this collection of interconnected memoiristic essays by poet and novelist Miller (The Cartographer Tries To Map a Way to Zion), the writer’s poetic brilliance immediately awes. He folds readers into the loud silence of the blank page, a paradoxical space of whiteness that can be both an invitation and a systemic, structural force that has stifled the voices of people of color for far too long. Miller is fearless, often invoking moments of diaristic honesty without ever sacrificing or shying away from critical commentary. The essays take readers to Miller’s native Jamaica as he reflects on life in Kingston; to Trinidad, where he observes Carnival; to the United Kingdom and the United States, where he teaches writing. Miller excels at writing words that resonate with readers, making them feel able to join him in conversation and to truly listen to the voices meeting them sometimes shyly, sometimes boldly on the page. After reading, one hopes that we will change dominant narratives about certain stories and bodies.
VERDICT With Miller’s insight and verve in each essay in this rich collection, this unputdownable book will stay with readers long after they’ve finished.
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