E. Ethelbert Miller’s 5th Inning

The 5th Inning

Poet and literary activist E. Ethelbert Miller’s new memoir “The Fifth Inning” is now available. Simply put, it’s beautiful. Ethelbert, who I am honored to call my friend, tells a story we all need to hear. He reflects on his own journey toward the end of life. He considers loss, death, memory, that long look back when most of one’s life has already taken place.  He faces all these realities without flinching– but also without heaviness. He brings his characteristic hopefulness, the intricacies of baseball and the blues, which have enriched his life for years. 

He tells stories from his adulthood in Washington, D.C., his home since coming here to college at Howard. He remembers various places he lived, how those places made him the father, husband, and poet he is. He remembers friends who have sustained him, those still living and those who are gone. He considers the difficulties and joys of fatherhood and marriage. He tells stories from which all of us can learn. He considers what effects 9/11 and the Iraq War have had on our society and he considers aloud what it means to write during a “time of war.”

Ethelbert’s prose is as tight and rich as his poetry. I sometimes sit stunned at what he can do in a poem, in ten lines! Here, in a relatively brief work of prose, he raises good questions and thoughtful, unsentimental insights. As one who has just reached 50, I know something of what he writes. “When a person becomes 50 or approaches the years that follow, his story is almost over.”

None of us wants to think of our time as “almost over” but in truth, it’s always slipping away. No reason to be sad or depressed, although those feelings might come at times. Rather, it makes sense to reflect on the richness of life. He writes at the end of the memoir: “Too many of us confine ourselves to boxes and cages. Even if the sky is gray, refuse to give into the darkness.” Ethelbert’s telling of these stories is a beautiful and magnificent refusal. I’m grateful he continues to pitch, to play, and to write.

The 5th Inning is published by Busboys and Poets and PM Press. 

Back to E. Ethelbert Miller’s Author Page