Sunday, May 20, 2007

Introduction for Eileen Myles (by erica kaufman)

Eileen Myles is like the Flash of the poetry world—able to move, think, and react at superhuman speeds. Bust magazine calls her “the rock star of modern poetry.” Publishers Weekly declares she's "the native informant of living life punkily on the streets," but also "having the best of both worlds, as working-class Bostonian and New York aesthete." Myles leaves no territory untouched—she’s written thousands of poems, published numerous books of poetry, a novel (Cool for You), short stories, and as an editor she brought the seminal anthology The New Fuck You/Adventures in Lesbian Reading to life. Myles was also the Artistic Director of The Poetry Project, toured with Sister Spit’s Ramblin’ Road Show, and in 1992 she conducted an openly female write-in campaign for President of the United States (I wish she would run again!). Myles lives in New York and Southern California and teaches at the University of California, San Diego.

Eileen Myles's newest book of poems Sorry, Tree was recently published by Wave Books. It explores themes of nature, translocation, politics, love and corporate squalor. Myles takes her signature short line to new heights in these bi-coastal lyrics. (To quote from “Home,” “I thought if/I inventoried home it would be broad.”) Here landscape changes and how one identifies a geographic residence. Similar to the lightening bolt that gives Flash his superhuman speed, Myles’s short lines and the ground they cover revolutionize what can be accomplished in a single poem. (Quote, “No Rewriting,” “which pants am I in/do I remember them?”) Again, like Flash, Myles uses her super powers to fight evil—but in this case evil translates to mean political disaster, capitalism, sexism, homophobia, and many many more “isms” and injustices that plague our society. To quote from “To Hell,” “The city is emptying. The elephants have been planning their party for years.”

In this same poem Myles writes, ‘I want to show you complicated dyke love, construct a poem about women and men.” The shift from Republican invasion to dyke pride is remarkable, vivid, and affective. Myles’s voice is like Flash’s, as in when she speaks or writes her voice is a sonic boom. To quote from “The Lesbian Poet” (a piece from School of Fish), “I think we all write our poems with our metabolism, our sexuality, for me a poem has always been an imagined body of a sort.” These poems are bodybuilders, in perfect shape, about to win the Olympics.

In an essay about “Postmodernism” Kathy Acker writes, “Language always occurs in the present because it makes the present, because it’s active.” In “Tulip,” (a poem from on my way), Myles writes, “The incandescence/of poetry/is a result/of the/moment of /being alive.” Myles’s work is more than alive, it is vital, animated, thought-provoking, genius. Quote, “The woman turning, that’s the revolution. The room is gigantic, the woman is here.”

Please join me in welcoming Eileen Myles.


Blogger Todd Colby said...


9:45 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home