13th International IDEA Conference: Studies in English, Gaziantep, Turkey, 24 - 26 April 2019
The Feminist Split Persona: Mina Loy’s “Parturition”
The British avant-garde poet, artist and feminist Mina Loy emerges as an extravagant, and revolutionary female figure illuminating the aesthetic and literary political concerns of the early modernist period; her body of works usually explore various social and feminist politics, and revolve around issues of gender, motherhood, female body and mind, sexuality and human consciousness. Loy is associated with Dadaism and Surrealism, and particularly Futurism, the Italian movement launched with F. T. Marinetti’s “Futurist Manifesto” in 1909. which rejected the traditions of the past, and embraced dynamism, technology and war. The Futurists fantasized a womanless world, and aggressively attacked feminism and moralism; initially inspired by Futurism, Loy soon moved away from it due to its extreme misogyny.
Loy’s “Parturition” (1914) gets the majority of critical attention of the avant-garde community with its unique subject, peculiar typography and graphic description. Loy’s biographer Roger Conover describes it “as the putative first poem ever written [in English] about the physical experience of childbirth” (177). So far, literal interpretations of “Parturition” have only focused on its physical aspect, treating it as a description of childbirth. This paper will examine, in terms of various concepts of “feminine writing” (with reference to Butler, Irigaray and Kristeva), how the act of parturition occurs in artistic, poetic and maternal levels, and explore the poem’s “split narrative” structure in order to suggest an exceptional identity transformation—the rebirth of an avant-garde artist, a creative poet and a parturient mother—and problematize the complex relationship between futurism and feminism.