The Poets

February 06, 2014

Colorado's First Poet

There’s no question that there’s a definite stylistic thread that weaves the Imagist movement together- the works of Amy Lowell, Hilda Doolittle (my favorite), and James Joyce, for example, all bare an uncanny similarity of intensity and radical use of imagery.

Some of the poems I’ve read by poets like this have literally left me staggering in awe- moved to passion, as it were, by a realm of imagination human minds seem to seldom touch. I don’t exaggerate when I say that that kind of poetry carries within itself the very potency that’s at the seat and center of every form of art known- sometimes it’s too overwhelming.

Mina Loy (1882 – 1966), who is said to be Colorado's first official poet, was heavily influenced by the Imagist movement, and all of her works bare the signature of that movement’s style. Although she wasn’t exclusively a poet (indeed, toward the end of her life she denied she ever was) the few works that she produced were very important contributions to poetry and the history thereof. 

Her poems are short blasts of intense imagery skillfully consolidated in a handful of lines- lines that almost at times seem possessed by some remote mystical state verging on madness. With that said, I will admit that she loses me sometimes, with lines like ... 

Dilation has entirely dominated
your long reality


 ... but still, her mesmerizing style, like Roethke, ceaselessly draws me back. If you haven't come across her verse, or haven't read Imagist poetry, you should check out some of her works. Here’s one below, a poem which rages against that ruthless deterioration culminating in our inevitable ending ... aging:

An Old Woman

The past has come apart
events are vagueing
the future is a seedless pod
the present pain.

Not even pain has that precision
with which it struck youth.

Years like moths
erode internal organs
hanging or falling
in a spoiled closet.

Does you mirror bedevil you?
Or is the impossible
possible to senility?

How could the erstwhile
agile and slim self--
that narrow silhouette--
come to contain
this huge incognito--
this bulbous stranger--
only to be exorcised by death?

Dilation has entirely dominated
your long reality.

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