Who knew successful artists from Mill Valley were so common? There are so many of them, in fact, that the town’s art commission and board of directors established the Milley Awards for Creative Achievement in 1988. The awards go to artists of all mediums—theater, dance, literature, music and visual arts, plus an award for contribution to the community.
One of the most recent recipients of the award is poet Richard Moore, the last of his generation of the legendary group of San Francisco Renaissance poets, a literary circle of Kenneth Rexroth in the 1940s and 1950s, which was a precursor to the Beat poetry movement. Moore currently resides in Mill Valley, and thus is qualified for a “Milley;” recipients of the award must have been born in Mill Valley, attended school, worked or made their homes in the town.
University of California Press recently published poems representing more than 60 years of Moore’s poetry in the volume Writing the Silences. Publishers Weekly calls Moore’s work “thoughtful, terse, decidedly modernist verse and prose poetry … both philosophical and political, with cadence reminiscent of George Oppen.”
Moore, now 90, is even more than a renowned poet, though—he is also a filmmaker and seminal figure in public radio and television as one of the founders of listener-supported radio station KPFA and one of the first employees of the KQED television station.
Past Milley recipients include cellist and co-founder of Marin Symphony Jean Maguire Mitchell, singer and jazz musician Jon Hendricks and Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead.