While browsing my iPhone version of The Paris Review I came across a piece on the American poet, Eileen Myles. I write poetry but had never heard of her. But then, I have never heard of most modern poets. I avoid reading poetry and my literary knowledge of poets and their work stopped with High School English and my teen-aged and current fascination with the work of Leonard Cohen. This is not the result of snobbery, or ego, but quite the reverse. I have a nasty inbuilt habit of copying the style of others after I read their work. The only way I can write in my own style is to avoid that of others.
But, I am getting more daring these days as I have been writing poetry again for about seven or eight years and have a veneer of confidence. I say ‘again’ as I wrote poetry while I was in High School. No one knew this of course as I was already an outsider in school and there was no point in making my life any more miserable by having others know I actually had thoughts outside of fashion, music or sports. (I had no thoughts on those, except I did like music – the words being poetry, of course).
Anyway, I have looked at the main page of Eileen Myles’s web site and it looks like familiar and comfortable territory to me. I did read the Wikipedia article on her which nearly turned me away. There is something about a life of teaching writing, and being a writer in residence that seems false to me – perhaps a bit of reverse snobbery on my part? Well, let’s just say that for me, as an individual embedded in my particular context, I could not churn out work on demand for others in some sort of academic setting.
Nor could I be part of any artistic scene, which she most emphatically is and always has been, at least according to Wikipedia. Whatever it is I do, and whether my poetry and prose is crap or not, must be embedded in the larger world. I write best when sparked by the ordinary and extraordinary place I live and mostly by the people I know here. I will admit this does include sojourning in the artistic world, or at least visiting as a tourist, but I cannot live there and still write. I have to live with bus drivers, nurses, business owners, police officers, lawyers, hair salon owners…. all those who live immediately around me AND all my Facebook friends.
So, maybe, perhaps, I might even click on some of the links on her page. But for now, I will just look at its design and perhaps write a poem on the feel of the main page.