His accessible, wryly tender poems spring from daily life and personal memory, often using the process of winemaking as a metaphor for life’s possibilities. Mills’s poetry collections include Love and Other Collisions (2010), Angels, Thieves, and Winemakers (2008), and Somewhere During the Spin Cycle (2006). With his wife, Danielle Tarmey, Mills wrote A Guide to North Carolina’s Wineries (2003). He also edited the critical anthology A Century of the Marx Brothers (2007), and his critical studies, including Reading Louis L’Amour’s Hondo (2002) and Reading Richard Brautigan’s Trout Fishing in America (1998), have been included in Boise State University’s Western Writers Series.
His honors include a term as poet-in-residence at Salem College and the inclusion of his poetry on Garrison Keillor’s NPR program, The Writer’s Almanac. He teaches at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, where he is the first Susan Burress Wall Distinguished Professor.