Readers either relish Eileen Myles's outrage and outrageously out-there writing or think the poet is a bit of a kook. Myles's inventive work and over-the-top persona don't allow for much in-between. Rich in vernacular and innovative line breaks, the poems in Evolution ask to be read out loud--like these lines from "St. Joseph Father of Whales": "I heard your/ Joseph Josephy/ songs in the whales/ last night/ giant round giggly organs/ tickling and mooing/ and diving calves, you're/ the oldest & the silliest/ Joe--need to keep/ you on my/ side."
Although Myles grew up in Cambridge Catholic schools and graduated from UMass Boston, Myles is a product of New York City through and through. A downtown denizen and self-described dyke, Myles is an alternative Patti Smith--complete with a 1980 Mapplethorpe photograph. As they describe in "Dear Adam": "Out of a/ conservative/ diaspora came I mongrel poet from Massachusetts/ to make my mark."
Myles crafts poems of personal nature. In very short lines, they are also reflective, contemporary, political, erotic and even aphoristic. "Each Day I Get Up," for example, starts with a bang: "I think I'm kind of Morrissey/ don't you/ though his sweatshirt/ wouldn't be so/ cheap/ though he'd/ probably wish/ that it/ was."
Evolution is a triumphant collection that manifests these words from Myles's prose poem "Notebook, 1981": "I called it poetry, but it was flesh and time and bread and friends frightened and free enough to want to have another day that way." --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.