(Poets and Poetry in America)

Often described as a “difficult” poet, both categorically and poetically, Mina Loy regarded poetry as a means to transmit new ideas. She used archaic language and complex imagery to critique dominant social conventions. Also, she emphasized the importance of sound and the need to listen in order to imaginatively participate in the poetic process. Her poetic voice is one of resistance—to lyric poetry, gender codes, sexual repression, romance, and bourgeois mentalities. She was one of the first poets to forego punctuation and compose free verse. Her poems are often interpreted as both unusually cerebral and shocking in their lack of sentimentality.

Songs to Joannes

Loy’s most famous composition is Songs to Joannes, a series of poems that evoke love’s physical and psychological effects. Its explicit treatment of sexuality inspired significant controversy when it was originally published in 1915; its experimental form and content continue to draw critical attention. It is often interpreted as a deconstruction of pervasive Romantic clichés. The oft-quoted first poem sets the explicitly erotic and often ironic tone that connects the individual poems. Loy frequently juxtaposes mystical and physical imagery to untangle the speaker’s disillusion and expose the contradictory attitudes associated with love:

I would an eye in a Bengal lightEternity in a skyrocketConstellations in an oceanWhose rivers run no...

(The entire section is 656 words.)