Probably it’s because I lost my computer that it’s looming but I had already begun the project in which I transcribed text messages from my cell phone onto my computer. Those are gone so the project feels even more urgent now. Fragmented, incomplete. The practical reason and the sentimental reason meet exactly in this task. Virtually all of my text messages were from my girlfriend. Other people text me too but those I erased and I always saved ones from Leopoldine and finally I had 100 and I couldn’t receive messages from her or anyone else anymore. When I began transcribing them onto the computer I admit I thought I could make a poem out of some of these. I didn’t think it was cold or tawdry but I HAD used lines from previous lovers in poems, like I’ve written poems that were ONLY that so I definitely didn’t want to sully this love with an academic practice. It seems like the only thing that’s truly academic in poetry is repeatedly doing yourself. Yet my love is new so maybe I would have to let me one of those texts creep in. In the viral fashion. But I simply wanted to save them after all and I did want to be able to receive text messages from her and other people in the future. I’m making space. So here we are now on Cape Cod and it seems she is having the same problem. She has too many messages from me. Both of us have some really good ones that move us and make us laugh. We went into a store to get some incidentals when we arrived here and each of us bought a new composition notebook. I can’t transcribe the feeling of the following sight which seemed the most important thing. She sat on a chair and me on the bed and we spent an hour one evening copying our text messages from each other into our new notebooks. We’d look up at each other and laugh. This kind of postmodern devotion or maybe it’s modern and it feels so good. 

Originally Published: July 14th, 2009

Eileen Myles was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and was educated in Catholic schools, graduated from the University of Massachusetts-Boston, and moved to New York City in 1974 to be a poet. They gave their first reading at CBGB's and then gravitated to St. Mark's church where they studied with Ted...

  1. July 14, 2009
     Martin Earl


    I've already tried to post one comment here, but somehow I turned the page and it was gone. You'd think I'd know by know how to mangage. Not as bad as a gone computer, what a trauma. I like, though, the way you describe the notebook ritual, and the hand copying. I think the movement from digital back to the manual (notebooks, copybooks, registers - my favorites) is always identity-upsetting, but crucial. Today I worked by hand on a translation from Boston to NYC but the train vibrated so much that I couldn't read the two pages I'd finished and I didn't exactly know who I was by the time I got to the city. I was somehow transfigured into my sick father, whose Parkinsonian handwriting it looked like. For most of us our handwriting is increasingly foreign, the image of denatured utterance. One of my friends (she lives in Brussels) transribed our more than 500 text messages over a year onto an excel spreadsheet. It was absolutely luminous. Every new love gives us license to repeat ourselves...nothing academic about it. \r


  2. July 16, 2009
     Eileen Myles

    Hi Martin,\r

    Thanks for this. \r