Eileen Myles Interview: Poetry as a Performance


In this video, Eileen Myles, often referred to as “the rock star of poetry,” talks about how performing poetry adds a new dimension to the process of writing it – a process where she doesn’t always feel like the author: “The thing that’s so sweet in front of an audience is you’re kind of like re-having that experience, but sort of socializing it somewhat. So, it’s kind of like you’re sharing that conceptual moment.”

Myles compares writing poetry to a kind of coasting – like surfing or bicycle riding: “You get on some-thing, you can feel the movement and you try to keep squeaking it out without stopping it or forcing it to continue when it’s done.” Going to do a reading, she picks the poem that “feels somewhat like today. So you can really enter it in some way that feels fresh.” Over the years, Myles feels she has developed more courage in performance, relying on her ability to hear the rhythm, the music, in her poem and trusting the sounds in the room – even letting the audience be part of it. Moreover, she has given her-self “permission to be ugly” when she performs, moving and gesticulating “to get over the shame of being somewhat a performer as well as a literary artist.”

Eileen Myles (b. 1949) is an American poet, novelist, performer and art journalist, who has produced several volumes of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, libretti, plays and performance pieces over the last three decades. Her publications include ‘Afterglow’ (a dog memoir) (2017), ‘Inferno: A Poet’s Novel’ (2010), ’Skies’ (2001), ’Cool for You’ (2000) and ‘Chelsea Girls’ (1994, 2015). In 2015 ‘I Must Be living Twice. New and Selected Poems 1975-2014’ was published. Myles has received a wide range of awards and fellowships such as four Lambda Book Awards, the Shelley Award (Poetry Society of America) (2010), a Guggenheim Fellowship (2012) and The Clark Prize for Excellence in Arts Writing (2015). In 1977 Myles co-edited the feminist anthology ‘Ladies Museum’ and in 1979 she was a founding member of the Los Texans Collective. From 1984-1986 Myles was the artistic director of St. Mark’s Poetry Project. Myles has toured all over the world since the early 1980s. She lives in Marfa, Texas and New York City. For more see: http://www.eileenmyles.com/

Eileen Myles was interviewed by Kasper Bech Dyg in August 2017 in connection with the Louisiana Literature festival at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark.

Camera: Mathias Nyholm og Simon Weyhe
Edited and produced by: Kasper Bech Dyg
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2018

Supported by Nordea-fonden

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