Eileen Myles Interview: Writing on Drugs


“If it doesn’t kill you, it will teach you a lot, and I learned a lot from drugs and alcohol.” In this video, Eileen Myles, an incomparable poet in contemporary America, speaks openly about how writing under the influence of substances affected her writing and her perception of reality.

In the aftermath of using drugs, Myles argues, there’s this gap – just like when a lover leaves or a parent dies – but eventually, that gap closes, and you can move on. Myles liked the effect that e.g. amphetamine and acid had on her, which she believes made her good at writing about different altered states, and made reality understandable when she no longer did drugs: “It seemed like there were all these realities next to each other and behind each other, and indeed it’s true.” Moreover, she shares how she would write great poems in the first couple of hours of a hangover: “There were things that were about the effect of drugs on my chemistry that were sort of marvellous for a while until it wasn’t marvellous.”

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 the Danish poet Mette Moestrup in August 2017 in connection with the Louisiana Literature festival at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark.

Camera: Klaus Elmer, Mathias Nyholm, Simon Weyhe

Edited by: Roxanne Bagheshirin Lærkesen

Produced by: Roxanne Bagheshirin Lærkesen and Christian Lund

Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2019

Supported by Nordea-fonden

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