Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Eileen Myles on Being a Poet

"I think we take the hit for language in any era. To decide to do “this” as a living is to invite barbs that generally pile up around gender and power. The poet is a fag, the poet is a drag, the poet is righteous. But really I think people resent our freedom. Our choice to keep doing something they may have done badly when they were younger and were full of feeling and to keep doing something that supposedly anyone can do – making something out of something as practical and mundane as language is to brand oneself as a lifelong fool rather than merely a fool in her youth. People feel sad about what they disavowed to become who they are now. Poets are human of course and have disavowed plenty, but to stand behind this nonetheless significant or foolish act – it’s a kind of self identifying, self categorizing act (like language itself) that enrages people exactly in the place where they’ve made choices and need to assume you haven’t. This – to be a poet – was the biggest choice in my life, and I suffer fools gladly and have a great life. Look at this. I just wrote a book called snowflake, for god’s sake." -Eileen Myles, via Hairpin & Robert Dewhurst

Right on, Eileen.

6 Comments:

Blogger Toast said...

I'm sorry, but what? Is there really such an ocean of seething resentment out there against... poets?

9:42 AM  
Blogger Todd Colby said...

Nah, no seething resentment out there that I've felt. I don't think that's what she's saying. I read Eileen as pointing out the dismissiveness most people have towards the art form and her firm commitment to it in the face of that indifference. The condescension she speaks of can, can, at times, be a bit bothersome, as she points out, so humorously. There is a certain pride one has with identifying with and practicing an art form that is so marginalized in our dominant culture. That's what she's getting at. What I really like is that she says this heavy, hard to say thing with so much humor. Write on!

10:06 AM  
Blogger Toast said...

I guess I didn't know suffering condescension was part of the job description. Someone tells me they're a poet and I think, damn, that's really cool. :-)

10:08 AM  
Blogger Todd Colby said...

Me too!

10:47 AM  
Blogger Toast said...

You should roll up to Farmington, CT this summer to check this out:

http://www.hillstead.org/activities/poetry.html

My wife and I go to all five dates every year, rain or shine. I mentioned it to Doughty once on Facebook and he seemed interested in playing it, but when I found out how far in advance they book people I kinda dropped the ball.

11:20 AM  
Blogger joanna said...

I totally get what she's saying.

3:30 PM  

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