Eileen Myles was born on December 9, 1949, in Boston. 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 (Soft Skull Press, 2000). Myles has also written a short story collection, Chelsea Girls (Black Sparrow Press, 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 books are the anthology Pathetic Literature (Grove Press, 2022) and I Must Be Living Twice: New and Selected Poems 1975–2014 (Ecco, 2015).
American novelist, poet, and critic 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 member of the American Academy of Arts & Letters and a professor emeritus of writing and literature at University of California, San Diego. They also currently teach at New York University, Columbia University, and the Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado. They divide their time between Marfa, Texas, and New York City.