23. ilb 06. – 16.09.2023
Portrait Eileen Myles
© Hartwig Klappert

Eileen Myles

Eileen Myles was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1949. After finishing school in Boston, they moved to New York, where they soon became part of the art scene in the East Village, which was shaped by personalities such as Andy Warhol and in the literary sense by the New York School. From 1977 to 1979, they edited the poetry magazine »dodgems«. They gave their first poetry readings at the well-known punk club CBGB and at the cultural center of St. Mark’s Church, where Myles was the artistic director of the writing workshop in the eighties. Myles also began doing solo performances of their work at that time, and two of their performances, »Feeling Blue parts 1, 2, and 3« and »Modern Art«, were performed at PS122 in 1988 and 1990. As the first poem »The Troubador« from Myles’ fifth poetry collection, »School of Fish« (1997) suggests, Myles sees themselves as a postmodern traveling singer. In this way, they presented their poetry and fiction – such as their first collection of stories, »Chelsea Girls« (1994) – at performances in North America, Europe, and Russia. In 1992, they led an artistic-political feminist presidential campaign, which had already been prophesied in their poem »An American Poem« from »Not Me« (1990). In the poem, Myles ironically proclaims »I am a Kennedy« as they offer an unusual critique of American culture. As a member of the group Artists for Hillary, in 2016 they supported the Democratic Party candidate’s election campaign.
At the center of their poems and stories is the fictional character of Eileen Myles, who expresses their lesbian identity in an artistic and self-confident way. In their first novel »Cool for You« (2000), the paternalism and oppression of women by institutions is addressed via the case of the Irish grandmother who emigrated to Massachusetts and is admitted to a psychiatric ward. Their art novel »Inferno« (2010), which combines elements of fiction, memoir, literary theory, contemporary history, and satire, celebrates important figures from the New York literary scene. In their recently published poetry collection »Evolution« (2018), Myles reflects, in concise lines, on central themes of her poetic work – love, loneliness, gender, America and its politics, as well as the loss of their mother. With their idiomatic and euphoric style, Myles is »one of the essential voices in American poetry« (»New York Times«).
Myles regularly writes for publications such as »The Nation« and »Book Forum« and publishes their work in the magazines »Index« and »Shiny«. From 2002 to 2007, Myles was Professor of Creative Writing at the University of California in San Diego. They have received a Guggenheim fellowship as well as the Lambda Book Award and the Clark Prize, among other awards. Myles lives in New York City and Marfa.


A Fresh Young Voice from the Plains
Power Mad Press
New York, 1981
Bread and Water
Hanuman Books
New York, 1987
Hanuman Books
New York, 1989
Not Me
New York, 1991
Chelsea Girls
Black Sparrow Press
Santa Rosa, 1994
The New Fuck You
Adventures in Lesbian Reading
New York, 1995
School of Fish
Black Sparrow Press
Santa Rosa, 1997
Cool for You
Soft Skull Press
New York, 2000
Black Sparrow Press
Santa Rosa, 2001
On My Way
Faux Press
Cambridge, 2001
Sorry, Tree
Wave Books
Seattle, 2007
The Importance of Being Iceland
Semiotext(e), MIT Press
New York, 2009
(A Poet’s Novel)
OR Books
New York, 2010
Pencil poems
Chax Press
Tucson, 2011
Snowflake/different streets
Wave Books
Seattle, 2012
Grove Press
New York, 2017
Grove Press
New York, 2018