Eileen Myles has written extensively about visual art: her book The Importance of Being Iceland collects what she called “travel essays in art,” and artists and their work figure prominently in her fiction and poetry, as they have in her personal life. (As she tells Ben Lerner, in this issue’s Art of Poetry interview, “Once I got sober, I looked at art and just got high.”) Elsewhere, Myles has described poets as “the link between all kinds of other media,” and her own writing continues to connect literature with other kinds of artistic practice in New York and beyond. For our Fall portfolio, we asked Myles to share a few of the works that have meant the most to her of late.
I actually hate when painting distorts the human body. It makes me think of modern art. But in photography or film, it sets off a trigger of associations that remind us that we don’t know the body at all. That we’re alone with its way of suddenly being apprehended as other, unusual, different. It’s almost like hearing a voice before you see a person, something is adjusting and it’s not quite human yet. I once had a partner who accompanied me to an MRI. She had been invited to sit in the room with the technician, and while she sat there reading, killing time, she suddenly looked up and there was my skeleton. And it looked like me, she said. I want to say that it’s very important who this person is, and that Jack Pierson is almost always an intimist. But here the figure, no one, is also caught in the hallway of nature, simply glowing.