UMaine to Award First Annual Millay Poetry Prize

Contact: Steve Evans, (207) 581-3818

ORONO — Poet and former UMaine graduate student Rachel Perry will receive the University of Maine-based National Poetry Foundation’s first annual Millay Prize for Poetry at a ceremony and reading Thursday, Sept. 30 at 7:30 p.m. in Soderberg Auditorium in Jenness Hall.

Internationally acclaimed poet and essayist Ann Lauterbach, who served as a judge for in the selection of the first Millay Prize winner, will join Perry for a poetry reading in a special event of the university’s New Writing Series. The prize is made possible through the generosity of Frank T. and Helen Crohn, who will attend Thursday’s ceremony and readings. The public is invited to the free event.

Perry, who received a master’s degree with a concentration in creative writing from UMaine in May 2010, will read excerpts from her winning manuscript “After Centralia.”

Lauterbach, currently the Ruth and David E. Schwab Professor of Languages and Literature at Bard College, co-chair of writing in the Milton Avery School of the Arts and a visiting core critic at the Yale Graduate School of the Arts, will read from her own work.

The evening’s program will be hosted by Steve Evans, coordinator of the New Writing Series and representative of the National Poetry Foundation, and will include several poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay, in whose honor the prize was established by the Crohns

Frank and Helen Crohn of Rhinebeck, N.Y. established the contest and a $300,000 endowment to support graduate student achievement in poetry. It provides a $1,500 award for the winner of the Millay Prize, which is expected to grow each year.

Frank Crohn became interested in Millay at an early age because of his mother’s love of Millay’s poetry. In later years, Crohn became an avid collector of the works of 19th and 20th century novelists and poets. It was at a 1980 book dealers’ event at Steepletop, Millay’s home in the Berkshires, that Crohn became interested in the Millay Society. He has been a member of the society for several years and has been an active member of the board of trustees for the past decade.

The Crohns have connections to Maine through a restaurant they co-owned in Downeast Maine and to the University of Maine through their support of the university’s Lobster Institute.

Evans, a UMaine English professor who co-directs the National Poetry Foundation (NPF), says the establishment of the Millay Prize represents a major new initiative on the part of the NPF, which was founded at UMaine in 1971.

Originally from Pittsgrove, N.J., Perry moved to Maine from Philadelphia in 2008. At UMaine, she studied under poet and English Department faculty member Jennifer Moxley, taught first-year college composition and was poetry editor for The Stolen Island Review, a literary magazine produced by English graduate students at UMaine.

Edna St. Vincent Millay, who died in 1950, was one of Maine’s most celebrated poets.