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Andrea K. Scott on Eileen Myles


For the New Yorker, Andrea K. Scott has written a short profile on Eileen Myles, who recently came out with two books. The piece in partial below.

In 1992, Eileen Myles lost the Presidential election. A poet from downtown New York, by way of blue-collar Boston, Myles ran as an “openly female” write-in candidate. She was also openly gay and, while she obviously knew she had no shot at winning, this wasn’t a Deez Nutz-style stunt—it was an act of political protest. Myles declared her candidacy in direct response to a commencement address delivered by George H. W. Bush in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in which he said that the greatest threat to free speech in this country was posed by “the politically correct.” As Myles wrote in a campaign letter, dated September 11, 1991, “By that he means members of ACT-UP, victims of bias crimes: women, homosexuals, ethnic and racial minorities. He would like them to shut up.” Adding insult to injury for the writer was the fact that Bush’s words weren’t even his own.

Now sixty-five, Myles is the author of nineteen books (also some plays and libretti), two of which came out last month: “I Must Be Living Twice: New and Selected Poems” and a reissue of her 1994 memoir, “Chelsea Girls.” In the past, she published with the kind of indie presses that inspire cult followings—Soft Skull, Black Sparrow, Semiotext(e)—but her new books were released by an imprint of Harper Collins and greeted by a flurry of press, including an interview with Ben Lerner in The Paris Review and an article in the Boston Globe, headlined, “Eileen Myles Returns as a Rock Star of Poetry.” (The New Yorker published its first poem by Myles this summer.)