A new icon

Feminist poet Eileen Myles has found her audience, 40 years into her career

(Emily Berl/The New York Times)

Eileen Myles is having a cultural moment. The 66-year-old poet has been chronicling life in New York as a feminist and a lesbian for 40 years, publishing 19 volumes of poetry and criticism and hanging out with the likes of Allen Ginsberg and Alice Notley in the city’s East Village scene since the 1970s. She published a novel, too, in 1994, called Chelsea Girls. The cult classic was re-released in 2015 and heralded the start of the new Myles era, a surge in popularity of her books and references to her from young feminists, pop stars, and TV writers, including those of the show Transparent, as well as Lena Dunham and Tavi Gevinson.

Myles told The New York Times recently that she believes social media has played a role in her sudden popularity.

‘’I think what social media has done is made us relish variables. You know? We’re just living in these floating fragmentations,” she told the paper, noting that now, it seems “everybody’s queer — everybody’s wrongly shaped for a culture that requires conformity.”

Myles chronicles life in New York in the ‘70s and ‘80s, bridging such of-the-moment topics as hook-up culture, sexual violence, and sexual identity. Myles said that her material may have been “too queer” for their time, but her essayistic, autobiographical fiction is finding a friendlier audience now.

Read the full story at The New York Times.


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