Eileen Myles

Eileen Myles Biography

Eileen Myles is an American poet who has also worked in fiction, non-fiction, and theater. She won a 2010 Shelley Memorial Award.

Early Life and Career

Eileen Myles grew up and attended Catholic schools in Arlington, Massachusetts and graduated from U. Mass (Boston) in 1971.

Arriving in New York in 1974, Myles gave her first reading at CBGB and attended workshops at St. Mark’s Poetry Project, studying alongside Alice Notley, Ted Berrigan, and Bill Zavatsky. She developed as a part of the poetry and queer art scene that developed in Manhattan's East Village. She worked as assistant to poet James Schuyler; met Allen Ginsberg at the Nuyorican Poets Café.

Her first performances and theater pieces (Joan of Arc: a spiritual entertainment, Patriarchy, a play, Feeling Blue Pts. 1, 2 7 3 and Modern Art and Our Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz) at the St. Mark's Poetry Project, P.S. 122 and The WOW Café. Myles has performed her work at colleges, performance spaces, and bookstores across North America as well as in, Iceland, Ireland and Russia. She lives in New York.

Myles's works include poetry, fiction, articles, plays and libretti, including: Hell (an opera with composer Michael Webster).

Professional Life

In 1992 Myles conducted a female-led write-in campaign for President of the United States. In the 1980s she was Artistic Director of St. Mark's Poetry Project. In 1997 and again in 2007 Eileen toured with Sister Spit, a post-punk female performance troupe.

Myles is Professor Emerita of Writing and Literature, and taught at University of California, San Diego from 2002 to 2007. She continues to teach during summers at the Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado, and was the Hugo Writer at University of Montana for the spring of 2010. She contributes to several publications, recently including Parkett, aNother Magazine, the Believer, H.O.W journal and Provincetown Arts. During summer 2009 she contributed regularly to the Poetry Foundation's "Harriet" blog.

Critical Reception

Bust Magazine has called Myles "the rock star of modern poetry", and Holland Cotter in The New York Times described her as "a cult figure to a generation of post-punk female writer-performers." Of her poetry book Sorry, Tree, the Chicago Review wrote: "Her politics are overt, her physicality raw, yet it is the subtle gentle noticing in her poems that overwhelms."

In 2010, her novel Inferno won the Lambda Literary Award for Best Lesbian Fiction.

The Best Poem Of Eileen Myles


She's rubbing his shoulder
and he's reading about
Western birds. There's a scoop
of light just above my knee

it resembles the world, the one I know
a layer of smoke spread thin, a shelf

my mind returns again &
again to the picture
you gave me. In pain.
I'm holding the receiver
in Denver some woman making
human eyes at me from her
blue seat, but I later
conclude she's crazy

I'm helpless, rushing back to fix the
"h," how can I help you

I think we tried this long enough
our cure
we would save us from everybody
else, we "got" it,

and now we're another falling down car
complaining animal
empty house

you bleeding & expanding

the red night itself
is your endless disappointment
in me
who promised so much
on that hill

O Glory to everybody & everything
that we will fish again & again
& get lucky

Anonymous submission.

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