Rambling: Eileen Myles

Kicking off the first episode of our new series, Rambling—where we share inspirational walks with literary creatives—filmmaker Chelsea McMullan gets the low-down with legendary American poet, essayist and one-time presidential candidate Eileen Myles, perambulating and talking poetry through the streets of their adoptive home of New York.

Myles’s devil-may-care attitude and astute political observation—whether writing about radical queerness or hot-button global events—has marked them out as something of an oracle. Working-class in background, queer, and twenty books into a career that began in the 1970s, Myles is now firmly within the institutional overground.

Myles’s emergence into the mainstream has been accompanied by their shrugging attitude toward accolades and fêted celebration. They came to New York in 1974 to “become a poet,” in their own words. But, in their 1991 poem ‘Peanut Butter’ they declared: “I am absolutely in opposition / to all kinds of / goals.” It is this principled commitment that has surely marked Myles out in an age of fake news and changeability.

Speaking about her candid profile of the prolific writer, McMullan observes: “Poetry and cinema often share this similar concern—how do you capture a moment as it happens? I wanted this film to reflect that voice of Eileen’s work through our observation of them moving about their neighbourhood on the Lower East Side. There’s no dawdling around Eileen—they move quickly and decisively, driven by a mind voraciously taking in the world around them.”


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