Created in 1843 by the daughter of a clergyman, ""The Mansion of Happiness"" was one of the first children's board games published in America. Players encounter virtues and vices on a spiraling track in hopes of advancing to the board's center, where salvation awaits. As the daughter of a miniaturist, Robin Ekiss finds many parallels to her own experience in the moral authority and artificiality of the game. In examining the history of toys and the broader implications of invention and self-identity, Ekiss illuminates both personal and cultural myths about mortality and memory in this startlingly original debut collection. Toys, for Ekiss, are sinister and strangely intimate imitations of real life. Like the disembodied heads of dolls, the poems pose questions about origins and reveal a surprising darkness in play.
Robin Ekiss has received a Stegner Fellowship from Stanford and a Rona Jaffe Foundation Award for Emerging Women Writers. Her poems have appeared widely, in the "Atlantic Monthly," "Poetry," "American Poetry Review," "Ploughshares," "New England Review," and elsewhere. She lives in San Francisco, California.