mina loy’s pseudonymania


Mina Loy is not Myrna Loy. While the actress Myrna Loy starred in the “The Thin Man” films, the Modernist poet Mina Loy was busying herself with the avant gardes of Italian Futurism, Dada, and to a lesser extent American Surrealism. The confusion is recurrent. Yes, their names are similar and yes, they were contemporaries, but the mix-up makes an even deeper sense given the two Loys’ shared elegance, and the Platonic rightness of imagining the poet ordering and lining up a sequence of martinis while in the company of William Powell. In point of fact, Mina Loy was not even Mina Loy. Born in England as Mina Gertrude Löwy, our Loy dropped the “w” and the umlaut early, undoubtedly a step in becoming what Marjorie Perloff calls a “deracinated cosmopolite”—she would spend the least amount of time in the country of her birth, opting instead for Germany, Italy, Mexico, France, and finally the United States. While Myrna Loy played on screen with Asta the pedigreed dog, our Loy played with a mongrel language, and she started those games with her name. In her poems she would call herself Imna, Nima, Anim, Ova, and Gina, and later in life her autograph’s surname read Lloyd. One of her fiercest advocates, Roger Conover, refers to Loy’s “pseudonymania.”

more from Jessica Burstein at Poetry here.