Rockland celebrates the life and poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay

The Millay Arts and Poetry Festival will be Sept. 7-9.


ROCKLAND — Rockland celebrates one of its own with the Millay Arts and Poetry Festival, with readings, an original play and live music throughout downtown, all designed to offer insight into the life and circumstances of the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet. Millay was born in Rockland in 1892.

“She herself was a multi-faceted artist, not just a poet. She sang, played music, acted, wrote operas and plays,” said festival producer Alva Hascall. “We want to grow the appreciation of (Millay) and what she contributed to the literary arts and all of the arts. We are trying to bring many different audiences together, all loosely based on Edna St. Vincent Millay, her works and her life.”

The festival, Sept. 7-9, is presented by the Millay House Rockland at venues across downtown, including the Farnsworth Art Museum, the Strand Theatre, the Center for Maine Contemporary Art and Harbor Square Gallery.

There are more than 35 events and performances that will include more than 80 authors, poets, actors, musicians and visual artists. Among those participating is national poet laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner Tracy K. Smith, Millay biographer Nancy Milford and Richard Blanco, presidential inaugural poet and Maine resident.

The DaPonte String Quartet will perform, as will the Edna Project, a New York-based trio that sets Millay’s poetry to music.

The Millay House Rockland is a nonprofit organization that is restoring Millay’s home and using it as a base to celebrate the poet’s life, poetry in general and the arts of midcoast Maine. Hascall hopes the festival becomes a staple of the fall arts calendar for Rockland and the region. “Rockland is getting a name as an arts center, and we felt it was time to grow an arts-based festival,” he said.

A playwright, Hascall contributed an original play, “Vincent,” which will get its premiere during the festival, with New York actress Sarah MacDonnell in the lead role and the DaPonte String Quartet providing music on stage during the performance. The play is set near the end of Millay’s life, while she is looking back and contemplating.

MacDonnell and the DaPonte String Quartet also will perform a Poetry Concert at Harbor Square Gallery, in which MacDonnell will read Millay poetry and the quartet will respond. Visual artists also are exhibiting artwork inspired by Millay.

Maine writer Carl Little will moderate a gathering of Millay scholars and biographers, and there will be poetry jams, open mics and readings and workshops by Maine poets.

“We’re really trying to create a true arts festival, with something for everyone,” Hascall said.

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at: