By Lauren Abbate
ROCKLAND, Maine — The Millay Arts and Poetry Festival is returning to Rockland for a second year on Saturday, as renovations are still underway at the house on Broadway where Edna St. Vincent Millay was born.
In 2017, the nonprofit group Millay House Rockland purchased the duplex where Millay was born in 1892 from the Rockland Historical Society, with the hope of turning the home into a literary center.
Last year, the Millay House Rockland hosted the first Millay Arts and Poetry Festival, featuring three days of poetry readings, including by the U.S. poet laureate. This year, the organization decided to scale back the festival to one day and focus on Maine poets.
The event takes place at the Farnsworth Museum Library and will feature current Maine Poet Laureate Stuart Kestenbaum as well as Maine Poetry Out Loud winner Allan Monga. Monga, who moved to Maine from Zambia last year, won a lawsuit earlier this year against the National Endowment for the Arts, allowing him to participate in the national Poetry Out Loud contest regardless of his immigration status.
In all, more than a dozen poets will give readings during the daylong event, with a public reception following the readings.
An open house at the Millay House will also take place in conjunction with the festival. Steve Cartwright, a member of the Millay House Rockland board of directors, said the exterior of the house is complete but work still must be done on the interior.
“We’re not trying to create a museum here. What we’re trying to create is some excitement about Millay, and encourage poetry and other arts and make this sort of a center that is a base for that,” Cartwright said. “Of course we haven’t accomplished all of them, but we have made a lot of progress.”
Cartwright said that the organization is still in talks with the Portland-based nonprofit, The Telling Room, with which his group hopes to partner for programming at the Millay House after renovations are complete.