Advanced Sentiment

On Eileen Myles and the transparency of fame.

"Fame is merely advanced sentiment."

Eileen Myles wrote that line. If you follow contemporary American poetry, you probably heard of her years ago: she is the author of 19 books, has been a central player in the poetry community of downtown New York City for decades, is a lesbian literature superstar, writes about and collaborates with renowned avant-garde artists in other mediums, and has toured and taught all over the world. That said, she's a poet, and even famous poets are rarely household names. Lately, though, she's hard to miss: last fall, two Myles books were published: a reissue of one of her most famous titles, the 1994 novel Chelsea Girls, and a volume of new and selected poems, I Must Be Living Twice. She's become a media darling, profiled everywhere from the Paris Review to New York Magazine and featured in not one but two articles in the same recent issue of the Sunday New York Times.

One of Myles's earliest influences was Andy Warhol, so it makes sense that she seems to be approaching the sudden spike in her celebrity with a mixture of bemusement, scholarly curiosity, giddy enthusiasm, and Zen detachment. It is not lost on her that as a poet who has often written about fame, she is now as famous as a poet can get, and that this role is fraught. Famous people are of course the repositories for the hopes, dreams, and shames of the non-famous. Through depictions of their lives and choices—no matter how manufactured or one-dimensional the versions we receive might be—we see our own.

Read the full article on the Poetry Foundation website.