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A Girl Called Vincent: The Life of Poet Edna St. Vincent Millay

A Girl Called Vincent: The Life of Poet Edna St. Vincent Millay

By Krystyna Poray Goddu
Chicago Review Press
208 pages
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This brief but meaty biography of “America’s Foremost Woman Poet” emphasizes her girlish ambitions and achievements. Which is not a stretch for Edna St. Vincent Millay. She experienced a wealth of fame from very early on in her life, making a name for herself through her poetry, prose, playwriting, and even acting.

Author Krystyna Poray Goddu is able to relate moments of Vincent’s early 20th-century youth to that of today’s reader. For instance, Goddu writes, “Vincent was also a teenage girl with teenage interests: boys and clothes.” (The target reading audience for this book is ages nine to thirteen, but as with most #YAHistorical titles, is perfectly readable for grownups.)

Despite Vincent’s seemingly rapid aging in later chapters, her carefree style certainly doesn’t fit that of an average adult, even well into her fifties. This arrested adolescence continues right up until Vincent's untimely death, which even today remains a mystery.

Though Vincent experienced great fame, the young readers of this book will still be able to find pieces of her life to relate to: the separation of parents, figuring out life after high school, turning twenty years old, starting college, and feeling a need to rebel. Goddu explores all these adolescent topics and more in prose that is a combination of narrative and literary analysis.

This writing style whetted my appetite for reading more of Edna St. Vincent Millay’s work. I don’t consider myself a “poetry person,” but this biography of a great American poet made me want to be—that’s where the bibliography of books both about and by “the girl called Vincent” comes in handy.
--Brianna Westervelt

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