Mina Loy’s poems are filled with her feelings. The feelings of a woman trapped in time and the social conventions of her day. Her poems are her diaries as a rebellious young woman raised in Victorian England, who later became a personality in Parisian bohemian circles and within Italian Futurism. Mina Loy became the most original woman of her generation.
She studied painting, beginning at age 17, in Munich, London, and Paris. She exhibited at a Paris salon in 1904. Became life-long friends with writers Gertrude Stein and Djuna Barnes. Loy met Picasso and attended bohemian balls with Marcel DuChamp.
In 1914, Mina Loy’s Aphorisms on Futurism was published in Alfred Stieglitz’s Camera Work magazine. Loy’s poem Parturition, her graphic depiction of childbirth, was printed in Trend magazine. Wikipedia
From Aphorisms on Futurism:
DIE in the past
Live in the Future
BUT the Future is only dark from outside.
Leap into it–and it EXPLODES with Light.
CONSCIOUSNESS has no climax.
In July 1915, Loy began to write what would be later known as Songs to Joannes (originally Love songs), a collection of modernist, avant-garde love poetry that shocked first readers. Beneath the surface of these poems, “Loy exposed the inequities and hypocrisies of male dominated society, and the resulting damage suffered by women physically and emotionally.” Wikipedia
from Songs to Joannes, XIII
Come to me There is something
I have got to tell you and I can’t tell you
Something taking shape
Something that has a new name
A new dimension
A new use
A new illusion
It is ambient And it is in your eyes
Something shiny Something only for you
Something I must not see
It is in my ears Something very resonant
Something that you must not hear
Something only for me
In 1916, Mina Loy traveled to New York City. Four months after her arrival, her photo was published in the New YorkSun newspaper, along with the caption,”Her poems would have puzzled grandma.” Loy was a poet of sophistication and a great beauty. She wore hats and dresses she designed herself. Mina Loy was a fashion model, actress, playwrite, poet, novelist, painter, sculptor, dress designer, hat designer, designer of lamps, and patenter of inventions. All in a time when it was only acceptable for a woman be a beauty, or for a woman to have a singular intelligence, but not both. Mina Loy was a beauty, an intellectual, and a creative artist, writer, and business woman. Loy’s collection of copyright inventions include a corrective corselet, a stage set, a valentine that ticks, and a lampshade design decorated with an airplane. Smithsonian
Mina Loy’s first book of poetry, Lunar Baedecker, published in Paris in 1923, contained Loy’s visually evocative poetry, as in the poem titled, Magasins de Louvre, of her visit to a doll shop in which “All the virgin eyes in the world are made of glass.” And the more painful poem titled: Virgins Plus Curtains Minus Dots in which she describes real virgins awaiting marriage, “Men’s eyes look into things / Our eyes look out.”
Decades later, in 1996, Roger Conover, in his written introduction to the volume, The Lost Lunar Baedeker, Poems,Mina Loy, carefully qualified Loy’s talent as a great poet– “I use “great” advisedly,” he wrote, “mindful that Loy has never been called great before.” Yet, later is his introduction he wrote, “…Ezra Pound, in 1921, thought(Mina) Loy, (Marianne)Moore, and (William Carlos)Williams were the only poets in America writing anything of interest in verse.”
Also in 1996, Carolyn Burke, published the biography, Becoming Modern: The Life of Mina Loy.
On Carole Burke’s website (www.carolynburke.com/) you will find this phrase on Mina Loy– “the late poet who’s all the rage now in smart literary circles, after nearly one hundreds years of obscurity.”
Mina Loy’s second and last book of poetry, Lunar Baedeker & Time Tables appeared in 1958.
Loy also wrote a novel titled Insel, which was published posthumously.