Cowboy poet Rod Miller hails from small-town Utah, and the history and culture of his home state informs both his work as an historian and his poetry. His verse is vibrant and modern without losing touch with the distinctive voice of the cowboy poet, resonating with the vivid rhythms of land and wind and sky. Rod’s latest collection of poetry, Newe Dreams imagines events leading up to and in the aftermath of the 1863 Bear River Massacre from the perspective of the Shoshoni people.
Rod is also author of two nonfiction books, Massacre at Bear River: First, Worst, Forgotten (Caxton Press, 2008) and John Muir: Magnificent Tramp (Tom Doherty, 2009), and a Western novel, Gallows for a Gunman (Kensington, 2005). A student of the ingredients of poetry, he also writes essays and conducts workshops on creating poetry. Rod wandered in from the High Lonesome long enough to answer 12 Questions.
1. What is your hometown?
Goshen, Utah. It’s located on Highway 6 between Genola and Elberta; the south end of Utah Lake is north of town and West Mountain is to the east.
2. With what fictional character do you most identify?
3. In the movie of your life, cast an actor to play you.
I used to say Robert Redford, but he’s too old and wrinkly now so I have to go with Brad Pitt. But Richard Farnsworth, even in death, could probably pull it off.
4. What work of art speaks to your soul?
My nine-year-old granddaughter’s drawings of pinto horses. That, and the Book of Ecclesiastes.
5. What books are you currently reading or recommending?
I just finished Shavetail by Thomas Cobb, which was outstanding. I always recommend The Meadow by James Galvin.
6. What song or album is currently in heavy rotation on your iPod?
Don’t have an iPod. Recent CDs in the slot include Lyle Lovett, Dave Stamey, Wylie and the Wild West, K. T. Tunstall, Brenn Hill, and Eric Clapton.
7. What’s the last movie that made you cry?
Don’t know. Maybe Cinema Paradiso. But it could have been a cold or an allergy.
8. Cat person or dog person?
The only pets I keep are books.
9. What is more important, truth or kindness?
Probably truth. I like to think they’re not exclusive and that kindness is always possible, but more often than not find myself resorting to honesty with a heavy dose of sarcasm.
10. How do you define sin?
Deliberate action that brings hurt to others. Either that or skipping church.
11. How do you define virtue?
Deliberate action that brings good to others. Easier to define than remember, especially if you skip church too often.
12. Design your headstone: What does it say? What does it look like?
A cedar post out in the sagebrush with a hand-painted tin sign, tied on with baling wire, that reads “Dig At Your Own Risk!”
Rod Miller’s Newe Dreams is published by Laughing Mouse Press, which also publishes 12 Questions.