Poetry Book Society Recommendation, Summer 2018.
Is nowhere a place we can get closer to? In her compelling second collection, Alice Miller tackles the circularity of thought, the company of the dead, and the lure of alternative futures. These poems rip into pockets of histories, trying to change facts and voices, searching for the word’s version of music’s home key. They dare you to visit, through a series of cities, the futures we never let happen.
'Alice Miller’s poetry delights in the music of surprise, often playing prosodic continuities against a percussive mise-en-page. It invites us into a deceptively transparent universe that must, in fact, be decrypted. Miller’s is the universe of the butterfly effect, where intimately minor events in one continent have seismic consequences in another. She knows what is at stake in the infinitesimal, the split second, the infra-thin. The poems in her scintillating collection, Nowhere Nearer, make us aware of how precarious the earth’s crust is, how treacherous the ambient oceans can be, and how ephemeral we ourselves are as we traverse great distances through the air. Birds, cities, relationships – all vanish in episodes of miniature apocalypse. The sensory richness of Miller’s poetry – her gift for evoking place through texture and season, situation through detail and lacuna – only emphasises her conviction that all that was ever loved or cherished must be swallowed up by the flow of Lethe, the river of forgetfulness. Against this, she offers us the small-scale yet memorable redemptions of sensory beauty, unexpected metamorphosis, and the resilient will-to-narrate, its testimony refusing to slip out of sight or mind, or be blindsided by time: “The hold I have’s not one I want to lose/ though it’s caught in the flick of the clock through this blood.”'
'Miller’s poems seem always susceptible — their arcs can be injured into new shapes, they are not set in their ways, or dully prefabricated. There’s a compelling, vulnerable person inside … and so much more. She’s willing to follow an impulse wherever it leads. To go so far, and no further; to turn aside, and notice something else. These poems are genuinely unpredictable, a rare thing, and their momentary stances or voice-postures have about them an air of irrepressible fiat. They can be epigrammatic — “A match strikes between / what we feel for those we know and / the bewilderment of strangers” — but often refuse the consolations of knowledge, exploding the urge to wallpaper the world with tedious explanation.'
Vidyan Ravinthiran, Poetry Book Society
'Haunted by apparitions of the past, Miller has written a curious and searching book that elegantly balances themes of love, loss and remembrance. This slim volume of poetry is incredibly ambitious in scope, claiming to tackle the circularity of thought, the company of the dead and ‘the futures we never let happen.''
Jack Solloway, The London Magazine
Reviews'A New Zealander who has studied in America and now lives in Austria, Miller has a wide and varied perspective. Her poems aren’t quite surrealistic, but there is a strangeness to them that at times is eerie.'
David Starkey, Santa Barbara Independent
'Nowhere Nearer is kaleidoscopic in its reach for heart and mind; silence matters as much as a delight in words and linguistic connections. You move between countries, ideas, memories, hauntings, loss. The past makes way for the future and the future makes way for the past. It is a joy to read, and a joy to read again. [...] It's a collection that is lucid on the line and bright with ideas.'
Paula Green, NZ Poetry Shelf