EDNA ST. VINCENT MILLAY by Frances Schoonmaker


Age Range: 9 - 12
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As a bare introduction to Millay’s poetry, this entry in the Poetry for Young People series is adequate, but should not be a substitute for other biographies or analyses of her work. Schoonmaker (Carl Sandburg, 1995) has written a four-page introduction to Millay’s life before arranging a selection of more than 30 poems. In the narrative of Millay’s childhood she includes many good details of her life at home (with a long explanation of her name, Vincent), but is silent on the topic of Millay’s “bohemian” adult life, and more importantly, how the unconventional views of her poetry gave voice to the young generation of the roaring 20s. She reports that Millay’s wealthy husband was a feminist, but not that Millay was, and offers no explanation of how her poetry reflected her strong convictions. In fact, although the book includes a good assortment of Millay’s poetry, the format allows for almost no interpretation, particularly of the more “adult” poems that are include, e.g., “First Fig,” and “Second Fig.” Even if Schoonmaker chose not to venture into the charged territory of Millay’s sexuality, there’s no indication of how small verses such as these expressed in two lines the explosion of new freedoms for women. By placing the poems into safe, pastel-colored, greeting-card context, she leaves readers with a false portrait of who the poet was. (Poetry. 9-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-8069-5928-2
Page count: 48pp
Publisher: Sterling
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 2000


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