Mina Loy was born Mina Gertrude Lowy, to Sigmund Lowy and Julia Bryan Lowy. Her father, a Hungarian Jewish immigrant, and her mother, a middle-class Englishwoman, had an unhappy marriage. Their tumultuous relationship, described by Loy in her long poem Anglo-Mongrels and the Rose, negatively affected her childhood, and she blamed her mother for her repressive upbringing. Her father, however, encouraged her artistic talent, and she began formal study of painting at the age of fifteen. She studied at the Women’s Academy in Munich from 1899 to 1901, and after spending several years back in England, she moved to Paris in 1903.
After 1903, she never returned to England for any substantial amount of time. She drifted between Paris, Florence, and New York for most of her adult life and spent her last sixteen years in Aspen, Colorado. During her first prolonged stay in Paris, she married English painter Stephen Haweis and gave birth to her first child, Ada, who died of pneumonia a year later. In 1906, she and Haweis moved to Florence, where she gave birth to another daughter, Joella, in 1907 and a son, Giles, in 1909. Although her years in Florence were tainted by her unhappy marriage and physical and mental fragility, she became acquainted with several people who encouraged her artistic development, including Mabel Dodge, Gertrude Stein, and prominent Futurists Filippo Tommaso Marinetti and Giovanni Papini. Her earliest poems were inspired by her relationships with Marinetti and Papini and the Futurist movement. Although she admired the energy and experimental dynamism of Futurist poetics, she criticized Futurism’s misogyny and sexual politics. While her marriage was deteriorating in Florence, she had affairs with both Marinetti and Papini. Her reactions to these affairs motivated some of her earliest poetic endeavors, most notably her influential serial poem Love Songs (also known as Songs to Joannes), various forms of which were published in 1915 and 1917.
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