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  • Allan Shedlin

Unraveling the Mysteries of Our Fathers

Guest Poetry by Miho Kinnas and E. Ethelbert Miller


Editor's note: When a friend asked me to better explain what I meant by "daddying" and how the "lifelong process of daddying" differs from the-one time biological act of "fathering," I sent him the quote/image below from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's The Little Prince:

During the hundreds of hours I've listened to children and fathers during my daddying interviews, the soulful sadness is often palpable. And that sadness, like the Little Prince's,

comes out of love or a yearning for it. And sometimes it lingers and the love is remembered – or yearned for – when one thinks of their father, or the father they wished for.


The poem below, so generously shared by the authors, is a collaboration between Miho Kinnas and E. Ethelbert Miller and is included in their upcoming collection, We Eclipse into the Other Side, which will be published by Pinyon Publishing in summer/fall of 2023. Coupled with the memory of my numerous readings of The Little Prince, Miho and Ethelbert's poem reminds me of one of my regular daddying admonitions: Don't keep the dad you want to be waiting. - DCG Founder Allan Shedlin



The Little Prince

"The Little Prince" was the prettiest little book my father gave me.

Once I got lost inside my father's library.

I found his ghosts and unicorns with embossed stamps

I couldn't decipher.


My father was a mystery to me.

My mother said he was a magician.

I believe I am magic.


I could disappear - just-like-this...

and reappear behind you

in the mirror.


I see you everywhere and everywhere I wish to see

you and know you're near and everywhere and keep

you here and always near. I see you now and everywhere.


I don't remember why the little prince saw the sun

set forty-four times a day.

But I'm certain my father knew the answer.

The answer now lives in my heart.

The Little Prince was sad.

So was my father and so am I.

- Miho Kinnas and E. Ethelbert Miller



 

Miho Kinnas, a 2019 Pushcart Prize nominee, is a Japanese poet & author living on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, where she swims, birds, and operates a community bookshop, An Island Bookshelf. She is the author of two poetry collections: Today, Fish Only and Move Over, Bird (Math Paper Press). Kinnas conducts various haiku/poetry workshops, including: Life Long Learning, Island Writers Network, Heritage Library Book Fair (Hilton Head Island), Sun City Book Club, Book Fair (Bluffton), Beaufort Middle School, Pat Conroy Literary Center, Camp Conroy (instructor), Richland Library (Columbia, SC), Writers & Critters Conference (Sterling, VA) and Shanghai Literary Festival. She holds an MFA in creative writing (poetry) from City University of Hong Kong.


The Washington Post once called E. Ethelbert Miller, "arguably the most influential person in Washington's vast and vibrant African American arts community. And perhaps its most unappreciated." Miller is a poet, writer, teacher, and literary activist. He is the author of two memoirs, including Fathering Words: The Making of An African American Writer, which celebrated its 20th anniversary this year with a reprinting, and several books of poetry, including The Collected Poems of E. Ethelbert Miller, which celebrates more than 40 years of his work. For 17 years, Miller served as the editor of Poet Lore, the oldest poetry magazine published in the United States. His poetry has been translated into nearly a dozen languages. Miller is a two-time Fulbright Senior Specialist Program Fellow to Israel. He holds an honorary degree of Doctor of Literature from Emory and Henry College and has taught at several universities. Miller hosts the weekly WPFW morning radio show On the Margin with E. Ethelbert Miller and is a producer of The Scholars on UDC-TV. Miller was inducted into the 2015 Washington, DC, Hall of Fame, awarded the 2016 AWP George Garrett Award for Outstanding Community Service in Literature, and presented the 2016 DC Mayor’s Arts Award for "Distinguished Honor." In 2018, he was inducted into Gamma Xi Phi and appointed as an ambassador for the Authors Guild. Miller’s most recent book, If God Invented Baseball, earned the 2019 Literary Award for poetry by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association.