Five Town board to consider naming school library for alumna Edna St. Vincent Millay

Tue, 01/07/2020 - 5:00pm

ROCKPORT — The Five Town CSD board will vote Jan. 8 on a proposal to name the Camden Hills Regional High School library after Pulitzer Prize recipient and renowned poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, an alumna of the Camden High School. 

As part of the proposal to name the library after Millay, a sign bearing the name “Edna St. Vincent Millay” and Millay’s signature is to be placed above the entrance to the library, if the board approves. 

There are options for the signs, each costing approximately $350. A naming ceremony is to be held in the spring, if all goes accordingly. 

The idea germinated last fall when Camden Hills English teacher Jennifer Munson was searching for an old yearbook in the school’s storage area of the library, according to library specialist Iris Eichenlaub. Munson lighted on the 1909 yearbook for the year Millay graduated from what was then called Camden High School. 

Upon a closer examination, the yearbook yielded some original works by a young Millay and other interesting biographical tidbits. 

“It got Jen thinking about how we at Camden Hills could honor our most famous graduate and connect our school with this important figure from the past,” said Eichenlaub. “Millay received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1923, was a prolific writer of poetry and drama, and pushed against the social norms and boundaries of her time. Her works influenced the community of arts and letters in the early 20th century, and are considered classic works of the American poetry canon.” 

Inspired by Millay’s legacy and eager to promote the famed literary icon to the present generation of students, Munson formed a committee of faculty members, students and Camden Hills alumna Hannah Wells, a board member at the Millay House in Rockland. 

The committee is currently working on several projects related to promoting Millay throughout the Camden Hills school community, as well as the greater Midcoast community. 

One of those projects is the naming of the school’s library in honor of the legacy Millay, in part, established as a student at the school. 

For Munson, the legacy of Millay is, in part, what made the decision to bestow Millay’s name on the library so easy. 

“Millay is an amazing woman who came from nothing; she grew up next to the tannery in a divorced family, with a working mother who often had to be away for work, but who believed in education for her daughters,” Munson said. “Millay started writing poetry at a young age, started getting published in her early teens, and, through the kindness of a patron who saw her read her poem Renascance at the Whitehall Inn, went on to Vassar. She was a suffragette, a human rights activist, a movie writer, and the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1923. The famous English writer, Thomas Hardy said ‘America had two great attractions: the skyscraper and the poetry of Edna St Vincent Millay.’”
 
Through naming the library after Millay, Munson hopes the move will educate the students more to Millay and the legacy she established. 
 

Reach George Harvey at: sports@penbaypilot.com