December 28, 2022

Mina Loy (England / USA) 1882-1966

Mina Loy (England / USA)



Born in London in 1882, Mina Gertrude Lowy studied art in Munich and in London (where she was taught by Augustus John) before moving to Paris in 1903. In Paris she married Stephen Haweis, and changed her surname to Loy. Her first child, Oda, died on her first birthday.

     The same year Loy met Gertrude and Leo Stein, and through Stein's salons, met Apollinaire, Picasso, Rosseau, and many others. As her art began to be noticed in Paris, she moved with her husband in 1906 to Florence, during which she suffered from depression and ill-health.

     However, Loy continued to produce art and began to flourish under the influence of Mabel Dodge, who have moved to Florence in 1910. In 1913 Loy exhibited paintings in London, and the same year, Stein and Toklas visited Loy in Florence. Later that year, Loy's husband sailed to the Fiji Islands, Tahiti, Australia, San Francisco, and New York, and Loy filed for divorce, allying herself with the Italian Futurists.

     Over the next few years, despite the declaration of war, and the breaking up of the American/English colony in Florence, Loy remained, having affairs with the Italian Futurist writers F. T. Marinetti and Giovanni Papini. As her writing began to be circulated in the avant-garde circles of New York, Loy grew restless in Italy and began to make plans to go to the United States. Disillusioned with Futurism, she performed anti-Futurist works such as her experimental verse play The Paperers, which exaggerated masculinities. In October of that year, 1916, she sailed, with her two children, for New York.

     Loy immediately made a sensation in Greenwich Village and in the avant-garde magazine Others. After she appeared as the wife in Alfred Kreymborg's play Lima Beans (William Carlos Williams was the husband), the New York press "discovered" her. In numerous articles and editorials throughout 1917, Loy was discussed as the paradigm of the modern woman. That same year, she met the Dadaist poet-publisher-pugilist-hoaxer Arthur Cravan; they were married in Mexico City in January 1918. As Loy sailed for Buenos Aires in preparation for their return to Europe, Cravan disappeared, never to be seen again.

     Back in Europe Loy began designing lamps and other commercial furniture and returned to the social whirl of Paris literary life. As Robert McAlmon reported about her wit at parties -- and her friendship with Djuna Barnes -- "If only Djuna Barnes or Mina Loy turned up, the evening might be saved." Throughout the next decades Loy worked on her poetic masterwork, Anglo-Mongrels and the Rose.

     In 1936 she returned to the United States, forming a lasting friendship with Joseph Cornell and retaining occasional contacts with friends from Europe, including Djuna Barnes, Marcel Duchamp, Alfred Kreymborg, Henry Miller, Man Ray and Mary Reynolds. In 1944 she became a naturalized citizen. She died in September 1966 in Aspen, Colorado.

       Her Stories and Essays were published by Dalkey Archive in 2011.




Lunar Baedeker (Paris: Contact Publishing Company, 1923); selections from "Anglo-Mongrels and the Rose" in Contact Collection of Contemporary Writers (Paris: Three Mountains Press, 1925); Lunar Baedeker and Time-Tables (Highlands, North Carolina: Jonathan Williams Publisher [Jargon 23], 1958); The Last Lunar Baedeker, edited by Roger L. Conover (Highlands, North Carolina: The Jargon Society, 1982); The Lost Lunar Baedeker, selected and edited by Roger L. Conover (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1996


Lunar Baedeker


A silver Lucifer


cocaine in cornucopia


To some somnambulists

of adolescent thighs


in satirical draperies


Peris is livery



or posthumous parvenues


Delicious 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

"Wing shows on Starway"

"Zodiac carrousel"



of ecstatic dust

and ashes whirl


from hallucinatory citadels

of shattered glass

into evacuate craters


A flock of dreams

browse on Necropolis


From the shores

of oval oceans

in the oxidized Orient


Onyx-eyed Odalisques

and ornithologists


the flight

of Eros obsolete


And "Immortality"

mildews. . .

in the museums of the moon


"Nocturnal cyclops"

"Crystal concubine"

— — — — — — —

Pocked with personification

the fossil virgin of the skies

waxes and wanes— — — —




Virgins Plus Curtains Minus Dots


Latin Borghese


Houses hold virgins

The doors on the chain


"Plumb streets with hearts"

"Bore curtains with eyes"


Virgins without dots

Stare beyond probability


See the men pass

Their hats are not ours

We take a walk

They are going somewhere

And they may look everywhere

Men's eyes look into things

Our eyes look out


A great deal of ourselves

We offer to the mirror

Something less to the confessional

The rest to Time

There is so much Time

Everything is full of it

Such a long time


Virgins may whisper

"Transparent nightdresses made all of lace"

Virgins may squeak

"My dear I should faint"


...."And then the man---"

Wasting our giggles

For we have no dots


We have been taught

Love is a god

White with soft wings

Nobody shouts

Virgins for sale

Yet where are our coins

For buying a purchaser

Love is a god

Marriage expensive

A secret well kept

Makes the noise of the world

Nature's arms spread wide

Making room for us

Room for all of us

Somebody who was never

a virgin

Has bolted the door

Put curtains at our windows

See the men pass

They are going somewhere


Fleshes like weeds

Sprout in the light

So much flesh in the world

Wanders at will


Some behind curtains

Throbs to the night

Bait to the stars

Spread it with gold

And you carry it home

Against your shirt front

To a shaded light

With the door locked

Against virgins who

Might scratch





Gertrude Stein



of the laboratory

of vocabulary

she crushed

the tonnage

of consciousness

congealed to phrases

to extract

a radium of the word





I Almost Saw God in the Metro


In that state of animated coma

the condition of clochard

this gray-head slumped on a platform bench

like the Emperor of Void

on a throne to which no one pretends

is wrapped in aloofness august

as deity--

an inordinate flower

opening undefiled

among ordure.




Ceiling at Dawn


Afloat in oval of unclosing eye


white-washed shadow-drifts

of indoor dawn

film idle clouds--


a Cinema-Nirvana


pallid ideograms

and epitaphs of dreams


upon a white slab slanted.


Visual echoes

in blanched rows


--the dissolved, derouted

traffic of slumber--


an acrid air-flower

adrowse in the etiolate pasture

of our arousing


as droning day


in early light

the spectral acre


under the sunless artifice

of this four-cornered sky,


lingering flies

convolve their slim-winged circles





"I Almost Saw God in the Metro," and "Ceiling at Dawn"

Reprinted from The Last Lunar Baedeker, edited and introduced by Roger L. Conover (Highlands, North Carolina: The Jargon Society, 1982). Copyright ©1982 by The Jargon Society. Reprinted by permission of Roger L. Conover.


"Lunar Baedeker," "Virgins Plus Curtains Minus Dots," and "Gertrude Stein"

Reprinted from The Lost Lunar Baedeker, selected and edited by Roger L. Conover. Copyright ©1996 by the Estate of Mina Loy. Reprinted by permission of Farrar, Straus, and Giroux

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