August 15, 2014

No more black dresses, poet Patricia Cleary Miller decides

Patricia Cleary Miller, whose husband died in February, is taking her late husband’s wardrobe advice. She will be reading poems concerning her husband at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Johnson County Central Resource Library in Overland Park.

Patricia Cleary Miller’s husband, James Ludlow Miller, 89, died Feb. 4.

That doesn’t mean he has stopped being a constant presence for the poet, who also has served since 1983 as an English professor at Rockhurst University.

“Since his death my husband has been appearing to me regularly, constantly, and pointing me on the way to a new life,” Miller said recently. Her late husband appears in her dreams, Miller said, but she also feels his presence during her daytime routine.

“Usually I write fantasy things, but this is very real,” Miller said. “He is very gruff and commanding. ‘Stop wearing black,’ he says. ‘Buy that red dress.’ If you knew him, you could see the humor in this.

“He has gotten tired of my black dresses and wants me to live, to celebrate life.”

Miller will be reading poems concerning James at 7 p.m. Tuesday as part of the Thomas Zvi Wilson Reading Series at the Johnson County Central Resource Library, 9875 W. 87th St., Overland Park.

“Because he was so much older than me, he was my mentor, he trained me in how to approach life,” Miller said. “After he died, I was depressed, but he clearly wants me to be my old self, bright and cheery.”

Reading with Miller will be William Trowbridge. Named Missouri poet laureate in April 2012, he promises to read some government-issue verse.

“When I was made poet laureate they asked me if I would write a Missouri poem,” Trowbridge said. “It came out all right. I kind of like to use a little humor. Its title is ‘Unofficial Missouri Poem.’’’

Remembering Bill Hickok

More than 100 friends and admirers of Bill Hickok attended his Aug. 9 memorial service at the Unity Temple on the Plaza.

Hickok, who founded The Writers Place with wife Gloria Vando Hickok, died July 21 at Marina Del Ray, Calif.

“It was a great service,” said Mary Bunten, Writers Place director. “There were people from all different aspects of Bill’s life, business associates as well as artists and musicians. It showed that a lot of people cared for him.”

Writers Place staff members are considering an appropriate way to remember Hickok. Bunten anticipates an announcement being made during the annual Writers Place fundraiser, scheduled this year for Oct. 2.

“We have been talking about how to honor his life, and we have found a way to keep his memory alive and perpetuate his legacy,” Bunten said. For more fundraiser information, go to

To reach Brian Burnes, call 816-234-4120 or send email to

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