a “Working Life”by Eileen Myles
From “one of the essential voices in American poetry” (New York Times) comes a rich new collection of expansive, light-footed, and cheerfully foreboding poems oddly in tune with our strange and evolving present
The first new collection since Evolution from the prolific poet, activist, and writer Eileen Myles, a “Working Life” unerringly captures the measure of life. Whether alone or in relationship, on city sidewalks or in the country, their lyrics always engage with permanence and mortality, danger and safety, fear and wonder.
a “Working Life” is a book transfixed by the everyday: the “sweet accumulation” of birds outside a window, a cup of coffee and a slice of pizza, a lover’s foot on the bed. These poems arise in the close quarters of air travel, the flashing of a landscape through a train window, or simply in a truck tooling around town, or on foot with a dog in all the places that held us during the pandemic lockdowns. Myles’s lines unabashedly sing the happy contradictions of love and sex, spill over with warnings about the not-so future world threatened by climate change and capitalism, and also find transcendent wonder in the landscapes and animals around us, and in the solitary and collective act of caring for one another and our world.
With intelligence, heart, and singular vision, a “Working Life” shows Eileen Myles working at a thrilling new pitch of their poetic and philosophical powers.
Named a Best Book of the Year by Vanity Fair and Electric Literature
“Ruthlessly unguarded, surgically self-parodic and infinitely funny, Myles’s poems chop lines into uncanny units and place our lexicons under an X-ray, turning the familiar into the unfamiliar. Myles evokes the absurd grace of mundane life—coffee, dog, toilet, ex-lover, refrigerator, T-shirt, cat, books, therapy, toaster—but among these quotidian objects and companions, there’s always a spark of surprise, as the sharp philosophical lines stop us in our tracks . . . An indispensable book about friendship and intimacy; I alternately laughed and shivered as I turned the pages.”—Kit Fan, The Guardian
“These poems probe consciousness from within the flow of experience. They move with the call and response between perception and thought. Perhaps yielding to their flow is what creates the feeling of sumptuousness . . . These are splendid poems.”—Camille Roy, Brooklyn Rail
“a ‘Working Life’ takes you where Myles feels like, for however long they feel like it, and in whichever direction. This is harder than it looks. The ease of Myles’s lines—the way words break in two to calibrate rhythm and speed, or how the number of words per line expand and single out to play around with tension—belie great skill. But the difference between poets isn’t just style; it’s personality, or one’s outlook on life. Myles’s is one of the most distinctive, and insightful.”—Vulture
“The poetry collection a “Working Life” finds Myles seeking revelation among the bouncing rhythms of people’s lives.”—Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“Myles’s work likely needs no introduction, but their latest collection—which celebrates the small and fleeting joys that make life worthwhile while also acknowledging the deleterious effect of climate change and capitalism—is the perfect thing to read after you finally finish Chelsea Girls.”—Vogue
“Impressive . . . With just a few words per line, their poems move down the page quickly, the language dashed off and immediate, as though keeping pace with the poet’s mind. Some feel like shorthand entries in a diary . . . [Reveals] the joys of a life built out of thinking, dreaming, and making.”—Publishers Weekly
“It is important to stay happy, to maintain daily reminders of goodness and wonder, and in a ‘Working Life’, Eileen Myles helps us do just that. With their streamlined style and singular devotion to mundane wonder, they show how life can still be surprising despite the inevitability we may feel each day. Contradictions and coincidences, joy and despair, the intricacies of life and death are all captured in these brief, fleeting poems, told in tight verse and with some lines only a word long. They reflect how quickly time goes by and how each second provides something deep and new, creating an infinite loop of meaning—a message that is helpful and frustrating, uplifting and perplexing. Really, it’s life.”—BookPage
“Myles’s poems set a bar for openness, frankness, and variability few lives could ever match . . . Now Myles is older than [Robert] Lowell when he died, and enjoying [their] greatest moment of accomplishment and fame. [Myles’s] very presence in the world is a form of activism, but [their] work, when studied with care, is also political in the sense that it gives evidence of one of the richest and most conflicted human hearts you’re likely to find.”—Dan Chiasson, New York Review of Books
“Choreography’s calligraphic touch: Bill T. Jones, Jackson Pollock, Eileen Myles. [Myles] moves so generously, stays so lightly, has so openly found and crafted life, as ceremony, every day, it’s as if [their] hands and feet trail sonic pigment, chromatic grammar, so that the earth is constantly refreshed by the poems as [they] step and caress, with ear’s utmost care, as curate of our common experiment, our undercommon experience.”—Fred Moten
“In Eileen Myles’s newest book of poetry, Evolution, we encounter an arrival, a voice always becoming, unpinnable and queer. Myles’s new poems are transformations, and perhaps a culmination of the poet’s previous inquiries into love, gender, poetry, America, and its politics . . . The form of Myles’s work rivals its subject matter in intimacy. The lines in Evolution are physical, a body unleashed but not yet comfortable and not without fear. The short lines rush down the page, movement as touch, touch as freedom.”—Natalie Diaz, New York Times Book Review
“Myles’s poetry is kinetic, ecstatic, muscular, hilarious, sorrowful, valiant, original, necessary, and timeless.”—Maggie Nelson
“Explore[s] and document the limits of language, both visual and literary.”—Artforum, on Evolution
“I loved Evolution . . . Poems that lope along, chatty, restless and limber.”—Olivia Laing, New Statesman
“Eileen Myles’s essential poetry is the hip kid leaning against their locker secretly burning with intensity, the smartest boy in the class who doesn’t care he has a scar down his face, the thing you just wish you’d said.”—Lena Dunham
“Lopes forward in the strutting style of the witnessing and sincere, but gorgeously nonaustere, poet in New York . . . The gift of Evolution is its bold depiction of the textually-rendered ‘I’-Eileen.”—Kenyon Review
“With the publication of their new book of poetry, Evolution, Myles explores, among other things, the loss of their mother, who died in April of last year; this current political era; past relationships; and their new dog, Honey . . . Myles [wants] people to find the accessibility of poetry: in life, in love, in Instagram, in everything.”—Vanity Fair
“Evolution, Eileen Myles’s first all-new collection of poetry since 2011, circles back to classic themes such as their love of dogs, loneliness, and parental loss. These poems, however, are also immediate and pressingly contemporary. Myles is conducting an intimate exchange with the government, peering into their computer and saying hello to whoever might be surveilling them.”—Lambda Literary