Robin Ekiss, Dollhouse Survivor

Last night I went to see Robin Ekiss read from her new book of poems The Mansion Of Happiness at Mrs. Dalloway’s in Berkeley. (“The Mansion of Happiness” turns out to be the Victorian precursor to the “The Game of Life.”) The poems mine her weird upbringing by miniaturists. She explained with a reasonably straight face that there was a dollhouse in every room in her house, including the bathroom AND the garage. This could be merely creepy, but Ekiss uses the tiny rooms inside rooms she grew up with to locate us each precisely and uncomfortably in our slice of a slice of genealogical time. It’s not all dollhouses. Ekiss told a story in the Q&A about being dragged outside one morning by Will Oldham when they were at the Headlands residency together. He was wearing a bright orange sweatsuit to go with his big orange beard, and wanted to show her a beehive which had a swarm of bees hanging from it — and then she wrote, “like bees bearding the wall/of a hive..” Oh!

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