Poetry News

Natalie Diaz Reviews Eileen Myles's Evolution

By Harriet Staff
Eileen Myles, Evolution, cover

The New York Times Book Review this week includes Natalie Diaz's look at Eileen Myles's most recent collection, Evolution (Grove, 2018). "The questions Myles asks," writes Diaz, "are queer questions, questions wholly invested in what is not yet possible." An excerpt from this review:

Part of what makes queer and trans art dangerous is its willingness to wager its own future and expend the labor required to write oneself into the considerations of a nation. In “Evolution,” that energy builds and burns, in the quick pace of the lines, in unexpected shifts and leaps from interior to exterior, from sensuality to observation. The shifting is constructed to let an audience believe it is receiving everything of the speaker’s life, that each poem reveals a secret and private truth. In the poem “Sweetheart,” Myles acknowledges the artifice of this truth as well as a division of the private and the public-private:

I’m creating
a pattern
someone who
doesn’t love
me will
say you
say too too

Movements like this, the flickering between what is thought to be known and what remains unknowable, are embodiments of queerness, and a facet of their power is that they cannot be dictated by the state. America cannot surveil imagination or curiosity.

Curiosity is not just queer; it is necessarily profane. Certainly the poems in “Evolution” are profane — as in outside the temple, outside the place of institutional knowledge and teaching... 

The full review is at the NYT.

Originally Published: December 13th, 2018