Don Bogen at Poetry Magazine:
What stuck me about “Cage” when I first saw it among the previously uncollected work in Josephine Miles’ Collected Poems 1930-83 was its lyricism. Although Miles wrote lyric poetry all her life, she is generally recognized as a poet more engaged with speech and ideas than with song. Her interest in the American vernacular, from people yelling at each other in traffic to bureaucratic jargon, informs her most well-known pieces. These include thoughtful observations on academic life in Berkeley, where she was a professor from the 1940s through the 1970s (no poet is better on teaching and learning); explorations of philosophical paradoxes; quirky takes on neighborhood life; and clear-eyed portraits of a childhood marked by the arthritis that would leave her disabled—all with her distinctive qualities of concision, wry humor, and an ear for the way people talk. But “Cage” evinces a strand in her work that has largely been overlooked, something more song-like and emotional.