In remodeling an experience of personal tragedy, Miller documents a larger tradition that converts blueness into salvation. Thus, Tender Noted becomes an epic narrative for survival and expansion, told through a compilation of poetry, plays, photography, film stills, and journal entries.
Self-inflicted scratches become the catalyst for Miller’s introspective journey, as they note the connection between their father’s death, their mother’s internalized sadness, and their time spent enduring abuse from a lover, to a larger tradition of Black fragmentation. Throughout the book, these recurring scratches become a metaphor for visual and sonic distortion: splits in time, identity, and tone. Every shift in pace–between images and writings—is a shift in character and sequence, in which Miller navigates between disparate roles of performer and their true self, between narrative and documentary. In their play, I Can’t Reach The Sugar On My Back: An Anti-Love Song About Love Songs Made With Butter In My Hands And A Dandelion To My Chin, (2017), first mounted at Chicago’s Prop Thtr, three of Miller’s aliases take center stage in a one-act, one-person show: Mrs. Lovely, Cheryl, and Laura. Here, their monologues about love evoke the folksy mannerisms of elders filled with lyrical wisdom, like the stoic women of Toni Morrison’s novels. Their body becomes an echochamber in which personal and ancestral anecdotes collide, like a double exposure of sound and history. One can’t help but wonder if Miller’s plurality is an attempt to create a kind of wholeness from the fractures caused by spiritual and physical mourning.