Talk Series: Eileen Myles

There’s nothing worse than funny poems but often people laugh in poetry readings and you don’t know when it’s going to happen & that’s what’s truly live about it. They may not ever laugh at that same moment in your poem again. So what was it. And what’s the interim between the poems called when the poet does patter and drinks water and looks weird or calm and if you’re some poets deadhead you learn that they shamelessly do that patter again and again. What if the poem never came, if the poet got up there and kept pattering. Would the meaning of the word ‘poetry’ stand or would it be something else, a clown or a sensai looking for a laugh or a tear or an extended or occasional huh. A room of all silence. I’m pondering that. Bring your stupid mind & your broken heart. I’m making my bid.

Eileen Myles was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1949, was educated in Catholic schools, graduated from the University of Massachusetts-Boston in 1971, and moved to New York City in 1974 to be a poet. She gave her first reading at CBGB’s, and then gravitated to St. Mark’s Church, where she studied with Ted Berrigan, Alice Notley, and Bill Zavatsky. She has published more than a dozen volumes of poetry and fiction, including Not Me (1991), Chelsea Girls (1994), Cool for You (2000), and Skies (2001). Recent books include Sorry, Tree (2007), The Importance of Being Iceland: Travel Essays in Art (2009), and Inferno: a poet’s novel (2010). Her new selected poems, I Must Be Living Twice, will be published this September by Ecco/Harper Collins.