A Doll for Throwing

Mary Jo Bang

A Doll for Throwing takes its title from Bauhaus artist Alma Siedhoff-Buscher’s Wurfpuppe, a flexible and durable woven doll that, if thrown, was said to always land with grace. A ventriloquist is also said to “throw” her voice into a doll that rests on the knee. Bang’s prose poems in this fascinating book create a speaker who was part of the Bauhaus school in Germany a century ago and who saw the school’s demise when it was shut by the Nazis in 1933. Since this speaker is not a person but only a Dickinsonian construct (“When I state myself, as the representative of the verse, it does not mean me, but a supposed person.”—ED in a letter to Thomas Wentworth Higginson), she is also equally alive in the present, and gives voice to the conditions of both time periods: nostalgia, xenophobia, misogyny, and political extremism. The art and life of Bauhaus photographer Lucia Moholy echo across these poems—the end of her marriage, the loss of her negatives, and her effort to continue to make work and be known for having made it.