More poetry from Special Collections: Edna St. Vincent Millay

Another prominent book of poetry which is having a major anniversary in 2017 is Edna St. Vincent Millay’s collection Renascence and Other Poems. Millay (1892-1950) was a popular lyric poet of the first half of the 20th century, and this was her first book.

The title poem, “Renascence,” first appeared in 1912. Millay, aged 19, submitted the poem to a prize contest whose top entries would be published in an annual volume called The Lyric Year. Millay’s poem came in fourth place, but because contemporary critics saw “Renascence” as the strongest piece in the volume, losing the top prize actually brought her more attention than had she won. Millay would go on to attend Vassar College; Renascence and Other Poems was published the year she graduated, 1917. She won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, the third woman to do so, in 1923.

Fun fact: BYU’s copy of Renascence and Other Poems was once presented as a gift by famed 20th century American lawyer Clarence Darrow.

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