Harker’s chapter of the Cum Laude Society brought poet Robin Ekiss to the Nichols Hall auditorium on Feb. 2 to discuss her collection of poetry, “The Mansion of Happiness,” and share the life experiences that have inspired her work.
Sitting at the edge of the stage, Ekiss, who received a Rona Jaffe Award for emerging women writers, explained that the title of her book was inspired by an 1800s board game of the same name. The daughter of a miniaturist, Ekiss was constantly surrounded by dolls, dollhouses and dollhouse furniture as a child, and dollhouses occupied every room in her childhood home. “When you’re a little girl, that’s kind of a super cool thing,” she said, “but when you’re an adult, you realize how incredibly creepy that is.”
Several of the poems in her book use toys and their histories as metaphor, such as “Preface,” containing the lines, “Imagine: a dollhouse in every room/In every room, another room/In every girl, another girl.”
Another poem, “Edison in Love,“ was inspired by the story of Thomas Edison’s dream of creating and mass-producing a doll that could walk and talk, which failed spectacularly. “I wondered what it would take for someone like Thomas Edison, who was so passionate and inventive and interesting, to create something that failed so miserably but still want to do it regardless,” she said.