Marjorie Perloff on the poet, playwright, novelist, futurist, feminist, designer of lamps, and bohemian
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Mina Loy
“I was trying,” Mina Loy observed in 1927, with reference to her polyglot, punning, scholastic, asyntactic, unpunctuated free-verse poems, “to make a foreign language, because English had already been used.” So distinctive was Loy’s “logopoeia” (the term Ezra Pound invented to describe this particular poet’s “dance of the intelligence among words and ideas”), that it has taken the better part of the century for her to be appreciated for what she was–one of the central avant-garde poets writing in English. Indeed, Roger Conover’s collection The Lost Lunar Baedeker is more than a new edition of Loy’s poetry; it is the only available edition of her collected (although by no means complete) works. Together with Carolyn Burke’s long awaited biography of the mysterious Mina Loy, the Farrar, Straus collection (subsequently cited as FS) is thus a major literary event.

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Stephen Moss (The Guardian) traces Beckett’s lifelong fascination with the game
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Samuel Beckett
Beckett had a lifelong interest in chess and was a keen player, following many of the big matches, says his nephew, Edward, who oversees the Beckett estate. Samuel was taught to play by his elder brother, Frank, and by his uncle, Howard, who achieved the remarkable feat of beating the Cuban José Raúl Capablanca, later world champion, at an exhibition in Dublin. There are a score of chess books in the library of Beckett’s old flat in Paris, which is now occupied by Edward and his wife. Beckett played regularly with friends during the second world war, when he was holed up in France working for the Resistance; he liked to annotate master games – the chess books in his library are full of comments – and corresponded with Spanish playwright and fellow chess aficionado Fernando Arrabal. In the early 1940s, he also played – and lost to – Marcel Duchamp, an expert on the game who wrote a chess column for the Paris newspaper Ce Soir.

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Excerpt from a recent biography published by Yale University Press that explores the life and work of the twentieth-century artist
Mark Rothko
Mark Rothko

Following his breakthrough into the art world, Marcus Rothkowitz seemed to build momentum, steadily lining up serious and interesting projects; however, as a New York artist, he still needed to establish a foothold. Despite his late start, by age thirty he could already boast about having his first solo exhibition, held at the Portland Museum of Art, followed within the next two years by shows in New York and Paris. In spite of these achievements, his public recognition remained elusive. All the same, these were years of critical importance to the artist’s emerging identity. Having gleaned the rudiments of the craft from various teachers in different institutions for four years, he joined the circle of Milton Avery, finding his place in this informal community that was reminiscent of the artists’ colonies of Pont-Aven and Giverny. For the next eight years, between vacations in Lake George, New York, and Gloucester, Massachusetts, complemented in New York by poetry reading nights and weekly figure painting workshops organized by Avery, Marcus R. would work alongside this group of fellow artists, benefiting from the master’s advice and the viewpoints of his peers. (more…)