Five Questions with Eileen Myles

Eileen Myles is the author of nineteen books including I Must Be Living Twice: New & Selected Poems and a 2015 reissue of Chelsea Girls. Eileen is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in nonfiction, an Andy Warhol/Creative Capital Arts Writers grant, four Lambda Book Awards, the Shelley Prize from The PSA; as well as being named to the Slate/Whiting Second Novel List. In 2016 they received a Creative Capital grant for nonfiction and the Clark Prize for excellence in art writing. Currently Myles teaches at NYU and Naropa University and lives in Marfa, TX and New York. 

Lucky me, I got to study with Eileen this past summer up in Hudson, NY. A few of the many things I learned from the maverick: Write dangerously. Write a poem as if the person reading it is in the room with you. Art hurts our animal eyes. As a poet you can dip into everything. And Middlemarch is a gold mine. 

On the train back to the City, I wrote this in gratitude:

a poet who
doesn’t suffer
has a wild mind
is kind
of a badass
and wholly

Now, enough of my crap, read their poems! One of my favorites is "Peanut Butter," which begins: "I am always hungry / & wanting to have / sex. This is a fact." And this is a beautiful post by Eileen about James Schuyler, remembering him in the throes of writing a poem. (Read the comments too; they are fantastic, in large part due to Matthew Zapruder.) One last thing I'll share is Eileen's testimonial to their animals, Rosie, Honey and Ernie. On Honey, a rescue pit bull, Eileen writes: "She's given me the river in winter." 

                                                                                                                    — Alisha Kaplan

1. Which song are you most likely to sing at a karaoke bar? 

Living thing, ELO

2. What are your thoughts on divination? 

Poetry is

3. Which poem by James Schuyler do you return to most often?  

Poem (How about an oak leaf). It's a perfect poem. It's mysterious, it's vernacular, it twists in the center and talks from three or four different places and in the end gives you a push away.

4. What is Time? 

It is the forest in which we live. 

5. What would you do if you were President

Reparations for African Americans. Make culture and women cabinet posts.