New Topic: Mina Loy

I don't think I've unclenched my teeth since Thursday night. I'm so stressed out from those nasty parents, my voice is suffering and I'm coming down with something. That is the absolute worse case scenario a month from production, especially since I finally have been given rehearsal time to push the students through the proper performance style for the music. Apparently, the choreographer (who is voluntarily retiring, but not till after this show is finished) has convinced the director that this is a dance show above everything else and he needs all the rehearsal time. I wasn't aware that a mostly sung through musical with 10 leads was actually meant to be performed like Movin' Out. New Topic: Mina Loy, Part 1 I don't think it's a secret that Modernism is probably my favorite style of literature. I could make a case for Realism or Pre-Victorian Gothic, but that evidence is far more limited when I find myself voluntarily picking up tome after tome of Modernist literature. I mean, I'm currently taking my fourth course with a strong connection to Modernism (1: freshman honors seminar tracing how literature shifted from Realism to Modernism and beyond, focusing on Modernist drama; 2: a history course that focused on Modernist design style and taught by a professor who appreciated my external research on appropriately connected literature; 3: a seminar on James Joyce mostly focusing on Ulysses; 4: my current seminar on Modernism which sadly is mostly focusing on poetry and skipping actual Modernist prose (Heart of Darkness? only approached from modern race criticism? give me a break)). Plus, there are always new discoveries and classifications in the period that take a while to be accepted or classified. One of my favorite recent discoveries is Mina Loy. There are a few ways you might have heard of her before: she had a brief, passionate relationship with Futurist leader Fillipo Marinetti upon moving to Italy, only to leave him and the group because of their connection to Fascism; she was a close friend to Gertrude Stein and a regular in the salon community; and is still well respected within the art community for her mixed media work: What I've grown to love of her is her poetry. While she was alive, her contemporaries - including Stein, Pound, Eliot, and Marinetti - praised her poetry and fully embraced her as a writer. And then, nothing. Cursory research is indicating the main resurgence of Loy's poetry started picking up momentum in 1998, over 30 years after her death. Perhaps the most remarkable element of her poetry is the use of space. Woolfe had her semi-colon, Dickinson had her dash, and Loy had_____her_____space. Unlike the wretched example just provided, Loy's use of space actually facilitates the meaning of the poem. It's as easy to swallow as a well placed coma. Take, for example, this openning of her poem "The Effectual Marriage, or The Insipid Narrative of Gina and Miovanni" (1917): Even a space isn't just a space, as the length of space varies throughout the poem. This poem was written about her relationship with Futurist Giovanni Papini, another man she left because of Fascism. The door image is pulled throughout the entire poem, as she hypothesizes that Gina can never fully connect with Miovanni as they are on two separate planes of existence. Not because of gender, but because of life concerns; Gina keeps the house in order and serves his every need, while Miovanni is living in outer space figuring out concepts she'll never understand. The spaces work to expand meaning. The space after the names indicates that no one quite understands why the relationship works. The space after "They knew" indicates a confidence that otherwise might not be as sincere. And the spaces between the last two lines of the excerpt are supposed to pull the reader into an almost hypnotic state, pulling them into the relationship they might fail to otherwise get. Loy wrote a good bit of lengthy poetry considering all of her other interests. She wrote, for example, a poem on James Joyce's Ulysses, with eighteen stanzas connected to her interpretation of the mythological influence of the Odyssey in each of the eighteen chapters. She also wrote a manifesto on Futurism, another manifesto on a lesser known post-Futurist group, a gorgeous essay on her friendship with and admiration of Gertrude Stein, and a very informative essay on what was considered Modernist poetry while she stayed in Europe. Eventually, Loy grew frustrated with the European scene and left for America, where she participated in theatrical works for many years before focusing her attention on mixed media art. Mina Loy is one of the rare artists who was very good in many fields, and whose influence and recognition might suffer because her output in any given field isn't as expansive as her contemporaries. The discussion should take an interesting turn on Thursday.

Labels: fillipo marinetti, futurism, gertrude stein, gina and miovanni, giovanni papini, james joyce, mina loy, modernism