The Millay Project
The world and history of poetry has iconic phrases. Lines of poems that have taken on a life of their own. But what about iconic visuals? Sure, there are a few volumes of poetry whose covers have embedded themselves in the public consciousness. But what about photographs? What photographs of poets have that kind of iconic status? I can only think of two. One is the image of Whitman posed in his floppy hat with a butterfly perched on his fingertips. The other is the portrait of Edna St. Vincent Millay posed between the branches of a blooming pink magnolia.
There is an enormous authoritative dogwood tree in the DC neighborhood of Brookland whose broad branches allow you to walk within the tree. Literally. In the Spring, when the tree is in bloom, you walk within to the base of the tree and you find yourself in a cathedral of bloom. You are immersed in the yellowwhite light filtered through the petals of a tree that has survived to this size by some perfect combination of shelter and space. It's quite magical. And it brought to mind that iconic image of Millay.
After photographing myself at the tree, and then local poet Kim Roberts, we decided to invite poets to come picnic when it's in bloom and read Millay's work. And to submit to "photographic ednafication." We've had a grand time and the little Spring soiree has become an annual tradition.
In past years we've read a few of Millay's poems, her sonnets, "Renascence", her hate poem "Spring" and have even done a video readings you can see below.
The main purpose has been taking our Ednaesque portraits and you can see the portraits and a list of participating Ednas, at the Project Millay archive page.
It's a poetic excuse to be in community with other poets and poetry lovers.
If you're interested in joining us next Spring, sign up to our mailing list. If you live somewhere else and are interested in hosting a poetic picnic and photoshoot when the trees are in blooming in your neck of the woods, we'd love to hear from you.