I have come late to Eileen Myers


I do not remember how I came across the name Eileen Myers. I do not remember how I came across the work of Eileen Myers. What I do remember is that I came across their poetry and Twitter messages in September last year. I am surprised that I had never heard of them before after all they are the same generation of my idol, Patti Smith. They both emerged in NY around the same time. They were both photographed by Robert Maplethorpe. They were both “punk” poets.  They were, are, both political. How come I had never heard of them?

And now? And now, I am learning to read their poetry and their books. I came across Myer’s last collection “I must be living twice” in Finchley, London. It was an omen. I bought the book and flipped through it as I took the bus home. What did I like? I liked the directness. I liked the straight approach. I have no time for the romantic poets or people who weave words in such a way as a reader needs a PhD in semiology  to understand their meaning. The images of Myers on the internet show a woman who is not bound up with fashion and notions of beauty – a woman who presents themselves as they are, wrinkles and untidy hair. They dress as straightforwardly as they write.

I am currently watching the television series Transparent, in which Myles is a character and also an actor. Reading the credits reminded me of “I must be living twice” sitting on my bookshelf. I took it down. I also did an internet search for their other works. The titles, I think, are arresting: “Not Me” and “The New Fuck You.” They are challenging titles and, I am happy to say, the poems in “Not Me” are as direct and challenging as I expected.  I like “narrative poetry,” by which I mean narratives / stories  told within the confines and structure of verse. The break in the lines and the thoughts are genius.

“When I came
in I switched
on the light
to a yellow &
black striped
towel on the
floor & a big
smashed water-
melon & a
pair of
cowboy boots.”
(Not Me, page 22)

I have come late to Eileen Myers but I am glad I have come.