Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Mina Loy's "Songs To Joannes"

The publication of Mina Loy's "Songs to Joannes" so angered a leading female poet of the time (Amy Lowell) that she vowed never to publish in the same journal as Loy. Known for wildly experimental, artful, complicated and compact poetics, Loy's poems (below) tell the tale of a illicit affair and abortion, material unknown to the poetics of the time (1917). Consider how (if) such a tale indeed emerges through her often distorted poetics; consider also how, like Cubism, Loy's poetics blur relations, and double and triple the meanings of words--something modern poets called logopoeia: the use of words not only for their direct meaning but also for the surprising, ironic, play between them.


Spawn of fantasies
Sifting the appraisable
Pig Cupid his rosy snout
Rooting erotic garbage
"Once upon a time"
Pulls a weed white star-topped
Among wild oats sown in mucous membrane
I would an eye in a Bengal light
Eternity in a sky-rocket
Constellations in an ocean
Whose rivers run no fresher
Than a trickle of saliva

These are suspect places

I must live in my lantern
Trimming subliminal flicker
Virginal to the bellows
Of experience
Colored glass.


At your mercy
Our Universe
Is only
A colorless onion
You derobe
Sheath by sheath
A disheartening odour
About your nervy hands


Heavy with shut-flower's nightmares
Curled to the solitaire
Core of the


Shuttle-cock and battle-door
A little pink-love
And feathers are strewn


Let Joy go solace-winged
To flutter whom she may concern

We might have coupled
In the bed-ridden monopoly of a moment
Or broken flesh with one another
At the profane communion table
Where wine is spill't on promiscuous lips

We might have given birth to a butterfly
With the daily-news
Printed in blood on its wings


In some
Prenatal plagiarism
Foetal buffoons
Caught tricks
--- --- --- --- ---
From archetypal pantomime
Stringing emotions
Looped aloft
--- --- --- ---
For the blind eyes
That Nature knows us with
And most of Nature is green
--- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- ---


Green things grow
For the cerebral
Forager's revival
And flowered flummery
Upon bossed bellies
Of mountains
Rolling in the sun


I don't care
Where the legs of the legs of the furniture are walk-
ing to
Or what is hidden in the shadows they stride
Or what would look at me
If the shutters were not shut

Red a warm colour on the battle-field
Heavy on my knees as a counterpane
Count counter
I counted the fringe of the towel
Till two tassels clinging together
Let the square room fall away
From a round vacuum
Dilating with my breath

The moon is cold
Where the Mediterranean----------------


m said...

The poetry of Stein and Loy, like the paintings of Picasso and Duchamp, challenge and invert conventional presentations of art, yet still have a quality of inclusiveness that unites them with the pieces we encountered Tuesday. The cubism of Picasso and Duchamp deals with the distortion of an object, manipulating its deminsions in a way that makes it possible to see all sides of it at once. In this way the paintings relate to the panorama themes found in McTeague as he watches life pass before him, in Ensor's integration of all levels of society and culture and in the Spoon River poems that present a variety of backgrounds and tales. This encompassing theme is primitive in nature for it reaches out to include the rougher, even coarse aspects of society that were once deemed unsuitable for artistic material. ("The Man with a Hoe" or Loy's poems, for example.) Stein's poem talks of a "distinguishing line" that merely distinguishes; it does not actually seperate or create a barrier. This "line" could refer to any number of social walls that would prevent inclusion. These artists utilized their rejection of traditional presentation to grab the attention of the observer. Loy's word-by-word juxtapositions shock you mind, causing you to re-think, re-read and re-analyze. This method, like the apparent brushstrokes of "The Laughing Child", the blatant distortions of Duchamp and the abandon of structure of Stein all serve to alert the observer to what they are witnessing. They acknowledge their own abscuring of reality, presenting simultaneous elements of the real and raw, and the fantastic and mystical.

Suzannah Powell

Joelle said...

hey! this is great but readers BE AWARE that her poetry has lots of spaces in it too which aaren't reproduced here- loy utilized collage to great success. look her up!! she's awesome, deserves more attention!!