The Importance of Being Iceland: Travel Essays in Art

Overview

Poet and post-punk heroine Eileen Myles has always operated in the art,writing, and queer performance scenes as a kind of observant flaneur. Like Baudelaire's gentleman stroller, Myles travels the city—wandering on garbage-strewn New York streets in the heat of summer, drifting though the antiseptic malls of La Jolla, and riding in the van with Sister Spit—seeing it with a poet's eye for detail and with the consciousness that writing about art and culture has always been a social gesture. Culled by the poet from ...

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Overview

Poet and post-punk heroine Eileen Myles has always operated in the art,writing, and queer performance scenes as a kind of observant flaneur. Like Baudelaire's gentleman stroller, Myles travels the city—wandering on garbage-strewn New York streets in the heat of summer, drifting though the antiseptic malls of La Jolla, and riding in the van with Sister Spit—seeing it with a poet's eye for detail and with the consciousness that writing about art and culture has always been a social gesture. Culled by the poet from twenty years of art writing, the essays in The Importance of Being Iceland make a lush document of her—and our—lives in these contemporary crowds. Framed by Myles's account of her travels in Iceland, these essays posit inbetweenness as the most vital position from which to perceive culture as a whole, and a fluidity in national identity as the best model for writing and thinking about art and culture. The essays include fresh takes on Thoreau's Cape Cod walk, working class speech, James Schulyer and Björk, queer Russia and Robert Smithson; how-tos on writing an avant-garde poem and driving a battered Japanese car that resembles a menopausal body; and opinions on such widely ranging subjects as filmmaker Sadie Benning, actor Daniel Day-Lewis, Ted Berrigan's Sonnets, and flossing.

Semiotext(e)

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Eloquent, touching, and often hilarious essays on art, poetry, politics,and 'Eileen' — a comic character who deserves to be as well known as Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn." Terry Castle Bookforum

Semiotext(e)

" The Importance of Being Iceland brings Myles full circle: She is able to portray evolving LGBT culture and her place in it, while simultaneously enabling the larger world to view us with humor, irony and admiration." Rachel Pepper Curve Magazine

Semiotext(e)

"Myles is a brilliant stylist; she writes in a way that we wish we could talk. Which is why it's so exciting to finally have a great big slab of essays, to observe her language when she's not constrained by the rules of poetry or fiction.

We get to hear what she says when she's being herself." Paul Constant The Stranger

Semiotext(e)

"Myles's unique writings on art and culture manage to stay right on target while simultaneously misbehaving." Alan Gilbert The Village Voice

Semiotext(e)

"There's a perfect analogy for the experience of reading Eileen Myles's new book of essays, The Importance of Being Iceland: it's like being at a large and lively dinner party with several of your favorite friends. The food is good, the room is comfortable, and the conversation is witty, feisty,perceptive, even tender. There are moments of digression, moments when the conversation becomes a little choppy, and there's also the fact that all of your dinner companions are variants of Eileen Myles. The overall effect of this book is to leave the reader with a full belly and a refreshed sensibility." Elizabeth Robinson Rain Taxi Review of Books

Semiotext(e)

"These writings confidently wander and always cohere, held together not just by the author's singular intelligence but by her ability to exude personality on the page." Michael Miller TimeOut New York

Semiotext(e)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781584350668
  • Publisher: Semiotexte/Smart Art
  • Publication date: 7/31/2009
  • Series: Semiotext(e) / Active Agents
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 387,559
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Eileen Myles, named by BUST magazine "the rock star of modern poetry," is the author of more than twenty books of poetry and prose, including Chelsea Girls, Cool for You, Sorry, Tree, and Not Me (Semiotext(e), 1991), and is the coeditor of The New Fuck You (Semiotext(e), 1995). Myles was head of the writing program at University of California, San Diego, from 2002 to 2007, and she has written extensively on art and writing and the cultural scene. Most recently, she received a fellowship from the Andy Warhol/Creative Capital Foundation.

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Table of Contents

Iceland 13

Art Essays

Play Paws 53

Taylor Meade's Apartment 57

It's A Wonderful Wave: Nicole Eisenman 62

The Free Show 68

Paul Lee's Piracy 74

Evolving Waters 78

Robert Smithson: The Collected Writings 81

Sarah's Smoke 88

Being in (a community of elsewheres) 91

What I Saw 92

Prints Of Words 95

A Treatment Of Susanna Coffey 104

About Martha Diamond 109

People

Daniel Day Lewis 119

Tory 128

The Sonnets 136

Jimmy: James Schuyler At Dia 138

Today's Poets: Alice Notley & Ann Lauterbach At Dia 140

The Art Of The Real 143

Talks

How To Write An Avant-Garde Poem 153

Everyday Barf 163

Universal Cycle 170

A Speech About Allen 181

The End Of New England 185

Introduction To Kay's Talk At White Box 195

Mr. Twenty 197

Eye: The Poems Of Jimmy Schuyler 202

Travel

Blue Petersburg 221

On the road (& at home) with Sister Spit 232

Box of Rain 238

On The Road With Bjork 243

Body

Live Through That?! 251

Jim Fahey 256

A Wedding In Denmark 261

My Sister's Wedding 266

Heat 271

A Recipe For Lesbian Brain 274

Moving Pictures

Reunion 281

The Universe In My Backyard: Russell Crotty 289

Repeating Allen 292

Brothers 'N' Sons & Female Heroes: Mike & George 300

Mr. Poole 304

Pistolary, The Complete Films Of Peggy Ahwesh 308

The Time Of Craft 315

Blogs: 2004-2006 325**********

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