Dolls: replicas of people made of cloth, clay, wood, bone, porcelain… used for religion, ritual and play. From the wooden paddle dolls left in Egyptian tombs in the 21st century BC to the plastic, highly stylized dolls of today, these replicas of people hold a unique place with us as something we both cherish and fear. Marge Simon captures that duality with her poetry collection, Small Spirits: Dolls of Darkness.
With haunting illustrations by Sandy DeLuca, Small Spirits explores the many personalities, often split, of dolls. Some of her dolls have dark intent. Malignancy is woven through the verse as their voices travel to the reader. Particularly the poem, Vanessa’s Fae Doll, chilled me as the doll speaks to us of her recent deeds. Another terrifying example of this is simply titled Hair.
Other dolls, like those in Refuse of the Cotton Club and Mummy Doll, are for remembering. Loss and regret flow from the words along with a sense of preservation. The dolls in these poetic stories are monuments to children, and lives, now past.
Whether they are worn from love or preserved untouched, Marge Simon’s dolls refuse to be depreciated playthings. They represent us, women, in all our diversity.
Sometimes victim, sometimes victor, these dolls are as diverse as the women and girls who hold them. Without judgement, Marge Simon explores that polarity of the feminine, and allows them voice.