One of the delights of writing stories set in the past is discovering, or re-discovering people who’ve left behind intriguing pieces of work. We all know the big names of the Jazz Age, but whilst researching books my character, Jackie, may have read, I came across a name which I’d never heard before: Mina Loy.
The avant-garde poet, artist, and playwright was born on December 27, 1882 in London.
At the age of seventeen she moved to the Munich, Germany to study painting. After marrying Stephen Haweis, she moved with him to Paris where she joined the circle of leading avant-garde artists including Gertrude Stein, Picasso, Djuna Barnes, and Henri Rosseau.
Consider Your Grandmother’s Stays: drawing by Mina Loy, 1916
In 1907, Mina and Stephen moved to Florence, Italy. Soon thereafter, they separated and she began a relationship with Filippo Marinetti, leader of the Futurist Movement.
Eight years later, Mina wrote “Love Songs” which shocked readers with its frank portrayal of human sexuality. Imagist poet, Amy Lowel, was so incensed by its publication in Others that she stopped submitting her own work to the magazine.
By 1916, Loy had grown wary of the Futurist Movement’s growing attachment to fascism, and she moved to New York City where she befriended the likes of Marcel Duchamp and Marianne Moore. She continued to write poetry, and perform in local plays, while her spiritual beliefs led her to Christian Scientism.
After falling in love with the Dadaist poet, Arthur Craven, she moved with him to Mexico City where they lived in desolute conditions. In 1919, after Mina discovered she was pregnant, Craven insisted he must find a better place for them to live. Using a small yacht, he set sail for Buenos Aires whilst Mina watched from the shore.
Craven was never seen alive again. His daughter was born in April.
Unable to accept Craven’s death, Mina flitted around from Florence to New York to Paris back to New York, and finally settled in Colorado in her final years. To the time of her death at the age of eighty-three, she never stopped creating art.
by Mina Loy:
- A silver Lucifer
- cocaine in cornucopia
- To some somnambulists
- of adolescent thighs
- in satirical draperies
- Peris is livery
- for posthumous parvenues
- Delirious Avenues
- with the chandelier souls
- of infusoria
- from Pharoah’s tombstones
- to mercurial doomsdays
- Odious oasis
- in furrowed phosphorous
- the eye-white sky-light
- white-light district
- of lunar lusts
- Stellectric signs