Eileen Myles Interview: A Poem Says 'I Want'



ugly nightmare eating too much dunking your head and water over and over again feel bad for your kid all of them but most of all us bad night's when I was young and drinking predatory men with swollen heads would buy me drinks and want to fuck me again and again because I was nothing to them and he is our president now if you ask me what was more political presidents are pussies there's only one answer pussies because because it's it's a censored word it's it's like it's an innocent word it's a playful word it's a childlike word for female genitalia and you would think it was something criminal about that that we can watch so much media about dead women violence against women you know so much so much stress around women having control over their bodies abortion health issues the United States we cut women's health enormous Lee we cut you know Planned Parenthood the organization that that has more to do with the health of women than any other organization in America and and yet somehow I mean it's just like pussy just represents just an assertion that female reality is a human reality is central to our tribe it's sort of when when I mean it was so funny like in Congress when they were going over this health care bill they were like well is it I mean like that they didn't really they were trying to suggest that pregnancy wasn't central to to human health but that pregnancy was like a pre-existing condition that pregnancy wasn't a genuine emergency it shouldn't that it shouldn't be necessarily covered and and the few and women were banned from being on that panel you know in Congress there were no women speaking for these decisions and so women in Congress were like wait a second like how did you get here how did you get here if you think pregnancy is not a necessary even conditions it was there some other entrance to this room and so I think I think it's just just that kind of thinking and just that you know like and you know I mean I get whenever I've been someplace where I say Tampax is free is part of what is in the bathroom I think well that's a culture that's acknowledging that this is a human fact that women bleed that menstruation is simply not as real as toilet paper mmm you know and again it's sort of like the removal of that from day leanness is is is what's really violent and stupid and crazy and and political deeply deeply political again I mean I just because because women are invisible and certainly their genitalia are invisible and so they're not part of human poetics they're not part of they're not part of you know you know the male Canon of I mean a a woman you know like a woman is this thing this camera this thing that's changing all the time is like the avant-garde symbol the naked woman playing chess with my xld shop you know but somehow her pussy isn't you know it's sort of like it's just like a target you know it's just like a hallway you know I mean I have a lot in someplace I never thought i Function function as a lane for someone else's desires but it strikes me as a very vaginal line you know I mean I just feel like it's sort of like because I'm female you know like I think it is part of how I organize things you know putting my own genitals front and center you know I mean it's it's not that I quote want to be talking about it all the time it's just that the pussy is a bit the pussy is abandoned you know like if I don't say it who will you know I mean so even you know the other night I wrote this poem and I was like why are there three constant this problem how did that happen you know and it just it's kind of like it's like the sound it's just kind of like you know like it's just running through my body is a sort of a necessity you know more than half the people on my planet are slaves because they are female it's true we get pushed around we don't know how to fight or if we do recall bitches which is an angry dog somehow dirtier than a dog a bitch in heat and if you talk about it people say oh are you a feminist which means are you whiny and out-of-date are you a loser don't talk about it everything will be really okay if you don't talk about it there aren't as many rich and famous women or female artists because their work isn't good enough and if you talk about it your work is probably not good enough either so don't talk about it it sounds like a witch hunt to me it takes one to know one bitch a whiny complaining female artist ugh Wow thank you I thank God I'm too successful to talk about that I'm one of the few women who are taken seriously the other thing that happens if you complain is they think you're a lesbian who's that angry complaining lesbian ever get yelled at in the street by a man you you lesbian everyone laughs just the words Dyke is funny and you are a lesbian which ruins everything no one can take it seriously now no one even wants to hear about it some people get off on it the girls are fooling around with each other's pussy til a man comes around climax but if a man never comes around what do they do just fool around with each other's pussies forever what do you think God looks like well I know when I die well god no I'm major whatever I am can I trust in that love coming down the pike getting larger and larger till I come silently into the moment I'm standing in The New Yorker for example I think I I was not the only person who was shocked when there was a piece of fiction by a man in which he shot a wad in a woman's face and I regarded that as a sort of pornographic shocking gesture you know and and yet I have never seen any any graphic say a graphic lesbian see in The New Yorker you know I've never seen anything remotely like that you know like coming for another sexual position you know so I thought wow I couldn't mean like it's sort of you don't have to that could be something exciting for either one of those two people probably probably more exciting for the man and the woman but but but it just it strikes me that that you know there's just this is no there's no equivalency and there's no suggestion that there's anything uncomfortable making about that sexuality that's human sexuality it's like if this is a normal thing to see if we see this in porn all the time if this is something people are doing the privacy of their homes or in you know special public spaces that's human and so the New Yorker will be there you know but there's so many ways in which my humanity has never been there you know and and that sends a really loud message so I think that like what I would I want to do all the time is is normalize it normalized my position by acting like it's in the world maybe even more than it's in the world you know it's sort of like if somebody picked up a book of mine i I just want it to be that welcome to my world these are the terms of it I'm not gonna writing about being gay or about being a lesbian or about being gender queer or trans or whatever it just is the state of things here and so you will have to you will in the same way that what you're walking down the street and this is a person who looks like who looks like that woody entity again knock them over you're gonna act like they're not I mean like in in the democracy in which I live I want it to be just the state of things you know and so the only thing work has to be utopian I mean that's a requirement for me it is it's like I what I get to do is an hour just to start creating the world I want to live in all the blankets are mined this time even the sounds which the blankets are made up of those birds are singing this morning of the me and you can have it but I happen to be here somehow adulthood yuck is so first hand I come from a hockey town it's where I was born the amount of water I was born near but nothing about me everyone was just skating the poet must steal some fire he said and then he will steal it from her I closed the book it wasn't what I had in mind becoming a poet at least for me it was sort of a default position you know because it's earliest I felt like a very ambitious child you know like I wanted everything I wanted something I wanted you know I love my parents but they felt like they seemed like disappointed people and early on I decided was because they had not made decisions they had not decided what it was that they wanted and made sure that happened and I thought I'm not going to be like that I'm gonna make decisions and I'm gonna make this thing happen but the problem was I couldn't stop making decisions you know like when I was young I thought well I think I want to be this kind of you know scientist or I want to write you know I go on a comic strip or I think I'll be a journalist I'll be you know it's just like right up until you know some piece of the 20s I was just always deciding and then becoming very excited by my decision and then and then not taking any steps and making another decision you know and so but the thing was as all that was going on I was writing poems I just wasn't noticing because that didn't seem like an important part of my existence and so someplace in there I was you know I was sitting at work one day I mean I've written about it I was sitting at work at a publishing company low low level job and I had an electric typewriter in front of me it was in the 70s and and I wrote a poem and I knew it was good and suddenly I was like hah what if this the poem is real and all this is not you know like what if this is the job you know I know it's just like that feeling was so I because I was what I started to notice was that everywhere I was in these crappy post college jobs what was happening the through line was poetry that's what was happening every place you know and so suddenly I just and I think I that kind of decision is the only kind of decision I can make which is to actually look at what's actually going on and put my money on that you know and poetry was that poetry was the thing that was happening I think language is sacred I think all language is holy you know it's just a strange people thing that people do that make them separate and close it to life so it's like a complicated gesture and I think one of the funniest things I ever saw was when I went I was at an artist colony McDowell and I went into a book to a drug store in town and they had a book rack and I walked up to the book rack and I suddenly realized it was a Christian book rack it's very conservative crazy religious books on the rack and I was like oh what kind of books do what kind of ghosts or is this and and there was one book right there that was called the blood of the Lamb I started reading about Lucifer and they say that Lucifer was one of the great angels of heaven but he got thrown out of heaven because he changed the order of the sacred words I thought that is so interesting because all poem is is changing the order I mean we don't make to some extent we might make up new words but basically we're dealing with what there is you know and and and that order is is interminably shifting you know and I think that's what we're doing you know we're saying okay I see this world and what if you do this and put this down here and put that there and like about that pattern you know like what about putting pussy here instead of down here what does that feel like you know and it's just like every time that's that's a profane act to change the order you know and that's what we must do I hopped on an Amtrak to New York in the early 70s and I guess you could say my hidden ia's began I thought well I'll be a poet what could be more foolish and obscure I became a lesbian you can laugh at that every woman in my family looks like a dyke but it's really stepping off the flag when you become one well holding this ignominious pose I have seen and I have learned and I'm beginning to think there's no escaping history a woman I was currently having an affair with said you know you look like a Kennedy I felt the blood rising in my cheeks people have always laughed at my Boston accent confusing lodge for Lodge potty for potty but when this unsuspecting woman a vote for the first time my family name I knew the jig was up yes I am a Kennedy my efforts to remain obscure have not served me well dining is a humble poet I quickly climbed to the top of my profession assuming a position of leadership and honor it is right that a woman should call me out now yes I am a Kennedy and I await your orders you are the new Americans the homeless of wandering the streets of our nation's greatest city homeless men with AIDS are among them is that right that there's no homes for the homeless homeless that there's no free medical help for these men and women did they get the message as they are dying that this is not their home and how are your teeth today can you afford to fix them how high is your rent if I'd is the highest and most honest form of communication of our time and the young artist is no longer able to move here to speak to her time as I could but that was 15 years ago and remember as I must I am a Kennedy shouldn't we all be Kennedy's this nation's greatest city is home of the businessman home of the rich artist people with beautiful teeth who are not on the streets which what should we do about this dilemma listen I have been educated I've learned about Western civilization do you know what the message of Western civilization is I am alone am i alone today I don't think so am I the only one with bleeding gums here today am I the only homosexual in this room am I the only one whose friends have died are dying now and my art can't be supported until it's gigantic bigger than everyone else's confirming the audience's feeling that they are alone that they alone are good deserve to buy the tickets to see this art a working are healthy should survive and are normal are you normal today everyone here we are normal it is not normal for me to be a Kennedy but I am no longer ashamed no longer alone I'm not alone today because we are all Kennedy's and I am your president I mean I mean I feel like a poem in a certain way just says I want you know I think a poem really is a statement of desire you know but but but all the desires you know and not maybe not all of them all the time but little bits and pieces of it you know and so I I think that like a poem a poem is is like my cultural mobility is there you know and my desire to be included is there you know and and and that just gets refracted by every kind of every experience of language that I've had since I started writing and learning language and learning to read and learning to hear you know in the same way that you know like there are sounds that people find deeply unpleasant you know everybody has like styrofoam or you know chalk on the board you know and then this sounds that you're drawn to and this there's no explaining that you know like that's just like something much deeper than I mean I science could could tell us sometimes genetically why certain sounds you know but it's like so that's going on and that's just beyond me but but certainly the first time I ever heard you know like heard somebody say that black English counts you know I mean like in the 70s linguistic sudden they were like there's such a thing as black English u-bahn –ax and and this is a valid you know because I was starting to look at why kids and different class backgrounds weren't learning to read and part of it was that they were throwing out vernacular and saying start over here with this white language that nobody around you is ever used you know and so I I when I heard that I thought well why isn't the vernacular that I've learned and constructed and it just like I you know my mother was a my mother was the children of Polish immigrants her first language was Polish and so her her English was impeccable and she was proud of it and she loves slang you know or sexiness was how American she was and how normal she was and how and and yet her her grandma was absolutely flawless because she wanted to be right a smart woman she was you know and so she just policed us and and we were and I come from a family of readers but the people next door who are far more exciting than my family they they would go fishing they would have brawls they would chase fire trucks they had dogs they were just like real in a way that my family was not real you know like they said things like Barenaked and they just you they said ain't they they said the n-word they just said that their whole their English their American English was so raw and so immediate and you know to some huge extent I wanted to talk like them because I wanted to be them and I want to be part of their family like sometimes I would say I I don't think I know I don't know if I said the word actually when I was a child but I might have because I read a lot and they would laugh at me and so I would change my English when I hung out with them you know and it's just like and that became how I talked you know when I hung out with them you know it's just like I don't even know you know so it's just like I feel like I cobbled a language to be in the world that in the way I wanted to be it be in it and then later I'm hanging out with these people and they're intellectuals and these people or I go to college and these people are and I go to the poetry world and they all went you know and it's like it just is evolving you know like this kind of evolving recipe for how to how to how to how to speak in a kind of American that is mine you know and I just like it becomes all those places I've been you know and it's sort of like in they're all they're all available you know and so I think when I write a poem I feel like I'm just writing from all of those places in any one of them and I think swearing is part of that too it's just like suddenly it's like you you kind of want to lean in and make a certain kind of point and I hear myself saying fuck you know because you know it needs that you know and then and it's just like in a right away you know that when you've said that it means this whole bunch of people won't listen you know and this whole bunch of people will listen you know and so I think what excites me is to think that what I'm presenting is a lot of codes together got a slice burned the roof of my mouth knew I would it was delicious I fast walked someplace my feet were cold but the slice built a fire in my stomach I said thank you to the natural elements cold night the Jess chin what is it about the January feeling past everything else low glowing hunger that propels me around I may be wrong predictable to picture you over here or us over there it's a miracle rolling golden and the coldest month going forward and back from so much else there wasn't even a noun around I walked in from the snow nearing Christmas and you touched my black coat with you handsome hand and believe me I came lit and M changed you

7 thoughts on “Eileen Myles Interview: A Poem Says 'I Want'

  1. I'd like to know what women think about this. I am interested in women's opinion. And I want to understand a woman's struggle in this world we live in. So once again your opinion would be much appreciated. Cheers 🌟👍😎🌟

  2. "I wanted everything." I loved that quote. This was a really nice video to watch. I loved her energy. And the passion she had.

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