Eileen Myles Interviewed by Linn Ullman

“Sometimes I feel female, sometimes I feel male, sometimes I feel androgynous, sometimes I feel absent. And I thought, ‘they’ is the pronoun of that feeling.” Watch two widely acclaimed authors, American poet Eileen Myles interviewed by Norwegian writer Linn Ullmann, talk about Myles’ gender, life and writing, and about the fight against categorisation.

“Writing is an opportunity to be many things.” Talking about identity and gender, Myles shares the desire to be a boy as a child, and the sense of fraud they experienced as a young woman, “posing” as a female. The experience of going to Catholic School, where you were “endlessly stripped of a self,” and the early loss of an alcoholic father, Myles feels, has entered their writing in the shape of melancholy, becoming “this residue from, in some ways, undigested sadness.” Writing, Myles argues, is in fact “massive mourning.” What writing can also do, Myles continues, is put you back together if you’re broken: “You’re making this kind of collage of beauty or success or making failure beautiful. You reconstruct your wholeness. And then the cracks mean it’s real.”

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. 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). For more see: http://www.eileenmyles.com/

Linn Ullmann (b. 1966) is a Norwegian author, journalist and literary critic. Her debut novel was ’Before You Sleep’ in 1998 and she has since published several critically acclaimed international bestsellers including ‘Grace’ (2002/2006), and ‘Unquiet’ (2018) (De Urolige, 2016). Ullmann is the recipient of the prestigious Gold Pen award and the Norwegian Reader’s Prize, among others.

Eileen Myles was interviewed by Linn Ullmann onstage at the Louisiana Literature festival in Humlebæk, Denmark in August 2017. In the video, Myles reads from the novel ‘Chelsea Girls’.

Cameras: Rasmus Quistgaard and Anders Lindved

Edited by Klaus Elmer

Produced by Christian Lund

Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2020

Supported by Nordea-fonden

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