Monthly Archives: March 2017

Online modernist women reading group: Kay Boyle

Kay Boyle is a writer I am eager to read more of and learn more about.

She wrote poems, short stories and novels.

So I am starting to discover her this poem, sourced from PoemHunter

Monody To The Sound Of Zithers – Poem by Kay Boyle

I have wanted other things more than lovers …
I have desired peace, intimately to know
The secret curves of deep-bosomed contentment,
To learn by heart things beautiful and slow.
Cities at night, and cloudful skies, I’ve wanted;
And open cottage doors, old colors and smells a part;
All dim things, layers of river-mist on river—
To capture Beauty’s hands and lay them on my heart.
I have wanted clean rain to kiss my eyelids,
Sea-spray and silver foam to kiss my mouth.
I have wanted strong winds to flay me with passion;
And, to soothe me, tired winds from the south.
These things have I wanted more than lovers …
Jewels in my hands, and dew on morning grass—
Familiar things, while lovers have been strangers.
Friended thus, I have let nothing pass.


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Online modernist women reading group: Mina Loy

I don’t know a huge amount about Mina Loy and what I do know is very much through a Stein prism.

I know for example that her husband once suggested Stein put more commas in a piece of work, and she agreed but later deleted them.

And I know that at Natalie Barney’s salon in celebration of Stein, which took place in January 1927, Mina Loy read some of Gertrude’s work.

I need to do better, in other words!

Here’s a poem by Mina Loy. I hope you enjoy it and please share your thoughts in the comments.

Nightingale singing—gale of Nanking
of Ming-dynasty
in Ming
sing long


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Modernist women reading group: Colette

It all started with Colette for me. Discovering an orange and cream Penguin ed. of The Vagabond in Alnwick’s Barter Books aged 14 got me hooked. Soon I was reading every Colette novel I could get my hands on, as well as her short stories and the superb biography by Judith Thurman.

The more Colette I read, the more I wanted to discover about the women living in Paris during her period. And so from Colette I learnt about Stein, and Djuna Barnes, and Bryher, and H.D, and all the women I’ve been talking about in this series.

Colette’s short-story The Hand is something I read as a teenager and it has always haunted me. It pops into my head all the time, the intense description of the hand, the move from joy to revulsion to submission.

When you read it, think on:

  • How does Colette communicate sensuality?
  • What do you think of her use of description?
  • How does she manage the transition from lust to disgust?
  • What is the significance of the young wife’s feelings at the end of the story?


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