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By Eileen Myles


The only thing interfering with the timelessness of summer is the heat. I spent the summer of 1975 in New York having a really hard time making a living mainly putting up gallery posters in the windows of stores for three dollars and hour. Some waitressing which I was really bad at. Happily there was beer. I remember a friend coming over and saying you don’t even have a fan when I remarked on how hopeless everything was. Oh you’re right. Someone gave me a fan I think. I don’t ever remember buying one except for a really cool looking deco one at an auction upstate which only died last summer on Cape

Cod and I don’t know why I brought it there. So for years I’ve left New York in the summer except for the years when I wasn’t even here. People say New York is great in the summer but I mostly think of the insufferable heat and being poor because most of the ways I’ve made money end for three months until the fall. Not just teaching. The art world closes too. Everything in some way stops. As soon as I had friends who had summer homes or those were their regular homes I became a guest or a caretaker or a house sitter and eventually a tenant when I had a little money. In my absence other people have lived in my apartment in the summer and several air cons have come and gone and even then I was only in charge of taking them down and sticking them under the bed, or throwing them out or telling someone else they could put them up if they liked. Nate put it up this summer with his friends and said he didn’t even use it that much. The point of this whole speech is that I thought I could never work here in the summer it’s so hot now the thing is blasting and it might be hot out there but how would I know. Maybe tomorrow or later today I’ll get to the subject of male privilege which I’m dying to write about. It got darker for a moment but that was the trees shifting outside. I also want to write about menopause and poetry which I am an expert on, and also the sorts of words we use for searches, those sore thumbs of google are certainly up for grabs. That’s something probably everyone is thinking about, the exceptional word that helps you find the cache you want. For now though it’s just fucking an eternal present in my home. No September coming and two new poems to type up here and a celebration of poetry’s paper trail cause poems don’t get lost thanks to this link to the past, the act of writing on paper. Looking for things in my file cabinets today I found a typewriter ribbon so I’m thinking about popping it in and letting the tapping commence.

The sun I notice just went down. I’m thinking about the kitsch value of typing for those who didn’t learn to write on a typewriter as opposed to the nostalgia I feel or just the reassertion of heavy handedness on the keys, the sheer percussiveness of hitting hard when for a while it was all you knew. I know people who never stopped using a manual machine which seems I don’t know maybe stubborn but it’s probably more like everything else must’ve been working otherwise you would’ve just reached for a computer along with everyone else. “Writers working on typewriters” would probably be an exception that would work for a google search.

My most recent keyboard is rubber and I feel like a drummer practicing someplace where it can’t be loud. The thing about writing poems on typewriters was there was an original. That condition can never return here no matter what I do. The sadness of hitting hard on the rubber in my home doesn’t seem like the end of anything at all. However what I like about working in an air-conditioned home is that’s it’s new. With my brand new old manual typewriter it’s almost sci-fi. It’s a little like Brazil a movie I keep trying to like but I abhor. But somehow I feel I’m in it.

Comment (1)

  • On August 31, 2009 at 10:59 am thomas brady wrote:


    I hate typewriters. They are noisy.

    Have you ever seen a dead typewriter? I find them hideously ugly—and if dead typewriters are beautiful, they are beautiful only because they are dead.

    Typewriters are like the oil/coal of technologies, a bridge between more pleasant ones.

    How much would a type-written page by a famous author be worth? Not much.

    But imagine if we discovered a page of “Hamlet” by Shakespeare–with jottings and corrections in his own hand of a famous passage from that play?

    And what a feast for the eyes to look upon Poe’s delicate, feminine script. What a thrill to see Emily Dickinson’s large, coarse hand!

    Now writing is mere spirit.

    I don’t think this is all bad.


Posted in Uncategorized on Sunday, August 30th, 2009 by Eileen Myles.