Photographed by Inez And Vinoodh. Styled by David Vandewal.
an excellent article by Emily Witt in the New York Times Magazine:
For decades, it seemed as though Eileen Myles and her unflinching depictions of New York misfits and creatives would forever be relegated to the margins of the American canon. And then last year happened.
ON A RECENT SUNDAY afternoon, Eileen Myles came to meet me in the East Village on a white bicycle with brown leather handlebars. We chose as our destination Saint Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery, a historic portal of downtown Manhattan a few blocks from the rent-subsidized apartment where she has lived for nearly 40 years. Since 1966, the church has housed the Poetry Project, which began as a government-funded attempt to address the teenage hippie runaway problem by offering free creative writing workshops, and which Myles discovered when she made her way to New York from Boston in 1974, then in her mid-20s, and not yet out as a lesbian. There, she found the poets drinking and smoking cigarettes around long tables in the church’s back rooms, at seminars run by Alice Notley and Ted Berrigan. Allen Ginsberg came to readings, the group’s leaders were heroes and the East Village felt, to Myles, like the center of anti-institutional American poetry.
“The romance was that you had to be poor, you had to live in this neighborhood, you had to hang out and read all the books that everybody was reading, stay up all night, have an amazing life and write poetry,” said Myles, who had just returned from a visit to her second home in Marfa, Tex., with a tan. Her look is L.L. Bean meets the South Shore, a grandfatherly assortment of cotton button-down shirts, wool sweaters, a canvas coat and transition lenses in blond tortoiseshell frames, complemented by a Massachusetts accent that’s most pronounced when she’s reading poems or cracking wise.
At the age of 66, Myles has published 19 books of poetry, prose and criticism, but until last year, when Ecco re-released her 1994 novel, “Chelsea Girls,” many readers didn’t know who she was. That’s not to say she wasn’t famous in her own way — if you were a contemporary poet, if you were gay or if you had an interest in the cultural feminism of the 1990s, you probably read her. Each of these communities had its canon, and in their canons Myles figured.