Hawk Parable

Hawk Parable Cover

Winner of the Akron Poetry Prize 

Purchase from University of Akron Press 

Purchase from Amazon 

Winner of the 2020 da Vinci Eye Award for Best Cover Art 

Oliver de la Paz’s Judge’s Citation:

“In Hawk Parable, by Tyler Mills, the intricacies of what is seen and what is felt are scars in the body of a bomb survivor or even legacies of guilt. Exposure in the white-hot flashpoints of the atomic age are lessons applicable to now and urgently call us to take head and notice that “The shadow is an airplane” and that “Vapor is a value.” The story of the hunter flying high above the earth is a lesson, also, about the prey and how the exchange between seeing and seen can spell unimaginable horror. The poet traverses the terrain of familial taboo, peering into the past and interrogating what is reflected there in beautiful and painful lyricism.”


“…Mills proves that Faulkner underestimated a poet’s ability to manage enormous shifts of scale…Haunted by the unverified possibility of her fighter-pilot grandfather’s ‘involvement in the Nagasaki mission,’ Mills scans skies for contrails, scrutinizes negatives, reads survivors’ accounts, and sifts through white sands…Mills has written a book for the long nuclear century.” – Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

“We really don’t spend a lot of our lives looking up—the sun steals our sight, or we might trip over our own feet—though Mills’s new book might send readers outside to stare and wonder how bombs have soiled the sky….[S]titched together by anecdote, folklore, blurry memory, rumor, and archival reels. Many of Mills’s narrators are shocked by the sky….Her frequent return to test sites in the book is apt, as if we are asked to consider the steps necessary toward destruction: methodical, meticulous, messy steps.”  – The Millions, Nick Ripatrazone“Must-Read Poetry” Feature 

“Mills uses formal poetic moves with the precision of a surgeon.” – American Book Review, Brittany Helmick

In the face of boundless mystery, fraught histories, and uncertain futures, Mills offers her readers a glimpse of the absolute present.” – 32 Poems, Jane Huffman

“A pastiche of locations, of first- and second- and third-hand observations, it is daydream as much as elegy.  It veils its hunt for truth in the guise of a birdwalk.  As it wanders, it opens our eyes to see what we might see.” – Tupelo Quarterly Review, Philip C. Maurer 


Hawk Parable is a wise and beautiful book, yes. It is also terrifying, and marvelous in its attentiveness to detail, yes. But why? Because it is a kind of book that brings together the personal and historical the narrative and the lyric, from ‘First Thing’ to the very last page, the poems of Hawk Parable take hurt and give us back a song. Bravo.” – Ilya Kaminsky
“Tyler Mills’ second book Hawk Parable, showcases the poet’s distinctive combination of directness and meditative restraint. The book is meticulously researched, culled from the scientific and historical record of the US’s development and dropping of the atomic bomb. It is equally situated in the realm of the personal. As the mystery of the grandfather’s involvement remains unresolved, so too the moral and ethical questions the poet raises can find no easy answers. Early on in the collection, Mills knowingly says: ‘The land buries the thing we made to live / just beyond the imagination.’ True as that is, Hawk Parable yet stands in opposition. These poems excavate the ‘buried’ past through the poet’s fearless imagination.” Shara McCallum
“Like a raptor spiraling skyward on an updraft—or a B-52 bomber circling its civilian target—Tyler Mills cycles through a breathtaking variety of recursive forms to achieve an aerial perspective on the cataclysm of our antecedent century in Hawk Parable. Telescoping military history into personal history, this writer sets her sights on nothing less than the nuclear era itself via her formal inquiry into the poetics of complicity, ancestry, and remembrance. ‘Get ready for the secret of your life,’ ends one poem, and in the silence that follows, we, too, must prepare ourselves for unsettling disclosures to come.” – Srikanth Reddy
“The poems of Hawk Parable arise from a profound lyric interiority, a seer self-reporting from a bottomless well. This voice has the astonishing ability to fold everything in—documentary history, material culture, apparent autobiography, formal perfection and range—while staying true to a distillation of deep feeling. The subject is our capacity for human and environmental annihilation; the process is archival—gathering scraps of information, texts of letters, testimonies, and taking personal journeys that allow for witness and delicate observation—in order to shore up memory and fact against an obliterative cultural amnesia. Mills’ impeccable craft and her tender care of the image strike me as the opposite of the indiscriminate violence of a bomb, but the parable of the hawk claims a more nuanced truth—that we are predators composed of feathers ‘trimmed by the light.'” – Diane Seuss 
Sample poems: 

“The Sun Rising, Pacific Theatre,” The New Yorker 

“First Thing,” Poetry 

“‘Mike’ Test,” Academy of American Poets