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About this poet

Born on December 9, 1949 in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1949, Eileen Myles attended Catholic school in Arlington, Massachusetts, and earned their BA from the University of Massachusetts (Boston). In 1974, they joined The Poetry Project at St. Mark's in New York City, where their teachers included Alice Notley, Paul Violi, and Ted Berrigan. In 1979, Myles worked as an assistant to poet James Schuyler.

Myles's first major collection, Not Me, was published by Semiotext(e) in 1991. Their later volumes include Evolution (Grove Press, 2018); Snowflake/different streets (Wave Books, 2012); Sorry, Tree (Wave Books, 2007); Skies (Black Sparrow Press, 2001); School of Fish (Black Sparrow Press, 1997); and Maxfield Parrish (Black Sparrow Press, 1995). Myles is also the author two novels, Inferno: A Poet's Novel (OR Books, 2010), winner of the 2011 Lambda Literary Award, and Cool for You (2000). Myles has also written a short story collection, Chelsea Girls (1994). They won an art writing grant from the Warhol Foundation for their collection of essays, The Importance of Being Iceland (Semiotext(e), 2009) and received a Guggenheim fellowship in 2012. Their most recent book is I Must Be Living Twice: New and Selected Poems 1975-2014 (Ecco, 2015).

Dennis Cooper describes Myles as "one of the savviest and most restless intellects in contemporary literature." In the Boston Review, Kathleen Rooney compares Myles’s "output" to Willie Nelson's in how "the poems enact a radical receptiveness to passing thoughts and experiences."

In addition to writing poetry, Myles was artistic director of St. Mark’s Church from 1984 to 1987 and coedited the anthology The New Fuck You/adventures in lesbian reading (Semiotext(e), 1995). Myles also wrote the libretto for the opera Hell, by Michael Webster, which was performed on both coasts and in Tijuana. In 1991, Myles launched a write-in campaign for president of the United States. Myles has written about art, culture, and writing for a variety of publications, including ArtForum, BookForum, The Believer, The Nation and Parkett.

Myles is a professor emeritus of writing and literature at University of California, San Diego, and currently teaches at New York University, Columbia University, and the Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado. They divide their time between Marfa, Texas, and New York City.

Notebook, 1981

I was so willing to pull a page out of my notebook, a day, several bright days and live them as if I was only alive, thirsty, timeless, young enough, to do this one more time, to dare to have nothing so much to lose and to feel that potential dying of the self in the light as the only thing I thought that was spiritual, possible and because I had no other way to call that mind, I called it poetry, but it was flesh and time and bread and friends frightened and free enough to want to have another day that way, tear another page.

Excerpted from Evolution. Copyright © 2018 by Eileen Myles. Reprinted with the permission of the publisher, Grove Press, an imprint of Grove Atlantic, Inc. All rights reserved.

Excerpted from Evolution. Copyright © 2018 by Eileen Myles. Reprinted with the permission of the publisher, Grove Press, an imprint of Grove Atlantic, Inc. All rights reserved.

Eileen Myles

Eileen Myles

Dennis Cooper describes Myles as "one of the savviest and most restless intellects in contemporary literature." Holland Cotter names Myles as "a cult figure to a generation of post-punk female writer-performers."

by this poet

poem

It’s a little bit
true that the
hole in my jacket
pocket
the breast pocket
yeah all relaxed
has a hole &
pens keep
slipping through
one’s in the lining
but this one
perched
now it’s a writing
bird
silly black out there
wants to
tell

poem
I've already had a lot of them
I'm looking at a tree
full of tiny balls
California trees are different
thin eucalyptus more blades than
leaves not hitting
my face
it's a country of tiny leaves

no leaves

simply balls
I desire a big book about
this not better
than them but
their friend.
Who doesn't love the text
poem

 

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