Experimenting with Bauhaus design aesthetic, Mary Jo Bang’s eighth book of poetry, “A Doll for Throwing,” consists of prose poems (formatted into blocks much like photographs) that feel like a blend of personal meditation and persona.
In many ways, Bang’s speaker is the movement itself. The first poem, “A Model of a Machine,” begins by stating the Bauhaus m.o, “I’ll begin by saying that objects can be unintentionally / beautiful. Consider the simplicity of three or four self- / aligning ball bearings, the economy of a compass. / Brilliant, no?”
Other poems in the collection are more specific, directly referencing works of art or artists from the movement. Bang explores perspective and art’s intersection with life through ekphrasis and occupying other voices. For example, the poem “Two Nudes” employs photographer Lucia Moholy as its speaker describing a day when she was “lying in the sun / dressed in nothing but our skin when a camera / came by and devoured us.”
However, one does not need to have extensive knowledge of the Bauhaus movement or figures to enjoy these poems. Her language throughout the book is playful and lyrical, asking its reader to reexamine the aesthetics we encounter daily—Drew Cannedy