2010 Millay Prize Winner Rachel Perry

Rachel PerryIn the spring of 2010, Rachel Perry was selected to receive the National Poetry Foundation‘s first annual Millay Prize for Poetry by the poet Ann Lauterbach.

On Thursday, September 30, 2010, at 7:30pm in the Soderberg Center Auditorium on the University of Maine’s flagship campus in Orono, the two poets will read together in a special event of the New Writing Series celebrating the Prize and recognizing the generosity of Frank T. and Helene Crohn, through whose generosity it has been established. The event is free and open to the public (though seating will be limited).

About Perry’s winning manuscript, “After Centralia,” Lauterbach writes: “What I like about these poems is the sense of engagement with the world, with objects, persons and events. There is a confidence in the voice, a relaxed diction, and a willingness to explore the possibilities of the page in relation to the disposition of the lines. The poet shows a balance between introspection and description, and is interested in the complexity, or difficulty, of representation and narration. Throughout, one has the sense that the poems are part of a search for the relation between subjects and forms, and of a nascent inquiry about the nature of the contemporary in relation to history.”

Rachel Perry grew up in Pittsgrove, New Jersey, and moved to Maine from Philadelphia in 2008 with her husband, Rob. She received a B.A. in English from Eastern University in Pennsylvania in 2002, and an M.A. in English with a concentration in Creative Writing from the University of Maine in May 2010.

At Eastern University, she worked as a writing tutor in the campus writing center and a teaching and writing assistant for EQUIP, a summer program designed to give entering first-year college students an academic foundation for their college studies. After she graduated from Eastern, and before she began her graduate studies, Rachel worked for two years as a journalist for PLAY Philly, an arts and entertainment magazine, and The Suburban and Wayne Times, a weekly community newspaper in the Philadelphia area. She also published her writing in many local publications, including Ticket, Main Line Life, and The Daily Local News.

At the University of Maine, Rachel studied creative writing under the mentorship and professorship of Jennifer Moxley, and successfully defended her thesis, a manuscript of poetry entitled Spluttered Birds, in April 2010. During her graduate studies, Rachel also taught first-year college composition for two years and was the poetry editor in 2009 for The Stolen Island Review, the literary magazine produced by English graduate students at the university.

In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and her family, reading, exploring the Maine wilderness (by foot, bike and kayak), looking for literary gems in dusty used bookstores, painting and sketching, and, of course, writing poetry. Rachel’s love for poetry began as a child when her parents would read to her and recite poems with her on long car trips. She started writing her own poetry in elementary school and hasn’t stopped since. Her writing has been inspired, over the years, by the poetry of Wendell Berry, Margaret Atwood, Jack Spicer, Peter Campion and John Ashbery, by the places she has lived and visited, and by the visual artists who have the ability to take the poetry of the everyday and transfer it to a canvas, making it something visible and tangible. She is particularly interested in the way artists influence each other and the way different art forms intersect and collide to depict the human condition. For her, the enchantment of poetry is its ability to transform the universal human experience into something both familiar and mysterious, to seek and find something intriguing in the ordinary.

Rachel Perry is thrilled and honored to be the first recipient of the Millay Prize for poetry, and she has long been an admirer of the poet for whom the prize was named. She plans to use the award to continue to work on her writing and hopefully publish a chapbook of poetry sometime in the near future. She would like to thank Frank and Helene Crohn for their generosity and their dedication to preserving poetry.


The UMaine New Writing Series is sponsored by the English Department and the National Poetry Foundation with support from the Lloyd H. Elliott fund, the Milton Ellis Memorial Fund, the Honors College, and the Cultural Affairs/Distinguished Lecture Series Committee. Grateful acknowledgment is made to the Pulp & Paper Foundation for the use of the Soderberg Center. FMI contact Steve Evans at steven dot evans at maine dot edu or at 207-581-3818.

If you have a disability that may require accommodation for a NWS event, please contact Ann Smith in the office of Disability Support Service, 121 East Annex, 581-2319 (Voice) or 581-2311 (TDD).

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