From its beginning — “My English professor’s ass was so beautiful.” — to its end — “You can actually learn to have grace. And that’s heaven.” — poet, essayist and performer Eileen Myles’ chronicle transmits an energy and vividness that will not soon leave its readers. Her story of a young female writer, discovering both her sexuality and her own creative drive in the meditative and raucous environment that was New York City in its punk and indie heyday, is engrossing, poignant, and funny. This is a voice from the underground that redefines the meaning of the word.
About the Author
Eileen Myles came to New York from Boston in 1974 and soon began reading her poems publicly, taking workshops at St. Mark’s Poetry Project in New York’s East Village and publishing in little magazines, zines and larger journals such as Partisan Review and Paris Review. Her books of poems include Not Me, School of Fish and Sorry, Tree. With Liz Kotz, she co-edited the notorious The New Fuck You/adventures in lesbian reading, responding to the short-lived gay and lesbian publishing boom in the ’90s. Her first fiction was Chelsea Girls (1994), followed by Cool for You (a nonfiction novel) in 2000. She directed the writing program at the University of California at San Diego for five years, returning to New York in 2007. In San Diego she wrote the libretto for the opera Hell (composed by Michael Webster), performed in 2004-06. During that time she also wrote much of Inferno. For the last three decades she’s been writing reviews, articles, essays and blogs, most recently in Art Forum, Parkett, Vice, AnOther Magazine and the Brooklyn Rail. Her essays were collected in The Importance of Being Iceland (2009). In 2010, the Poetry Society of American awarded Myles the Shelley Memorial Award. The same year, she was the Hugo Writer at the University of Montana at Missoula. She lives in New York.
Praise for Inferno: A Poet's Novel…
“What is a poem worth? Not much in America. What is a life worth? Inferno isn’t another ‘life of the poet,’ it’s a fugue state where life and poem are one: shameful and glorious. People sometimes say, ‘I came from nothing,’ but that’s not quite right. Myles shows us a ‘place’ a poet might come from, did come from––working class, Catholic, female, queer. This narrative journey somehow takes place in a moment, every moment, the impossible present moment of poetry.” – Rae Armantrout
“Zingingly funny and melancholy, Inferno follows a young girl from Boston in her descent into the maelstrom of New York Bohemia, circa 1968. Myles beautifully chronicles a lost Eden: ‘The place I found was carved out from sadness and sex and to write a poem there you merely needed to gather.’ ” — John Ashbery
“Eileen Myles debates her own self identity in a gruffly beautiful, sure voice of reason. Is she a ‘hunk’? A ‘dyke’? A ‘female’? I’ll tell you what she is––damn smart! Inferno burns with humor, lust and a healthy dose of neurotic happiness.” — John Waters