Eileen Myles’s Inferno (a poet’s novel)

A depiction of Dante’s ‘Inferno’ can be seen in the form of an image. It is a representation of the poem, which is part of his 14th century epic ‘The Divine Comedy’.

Yearning is not trendy. It is anguished, hot, and physically uncomfortable.

In Eileen Myles’s Inferno (A Poet’s Novel), the realness of the storyteller’s longing–for women, for poetry–might become soppy if it were not for the spontaneous messiness of the writing: a cool covering for a passionate communication.

Sincereness is balanced by humor, poeticism by dry analysis, and constantly there is the extraordinary disarray of Myles’s sentences, as commas are purposely omitted, phrases combined, and one tense subtly transitions into another.

Eileen Myles’s narrative, which is divided into three sections that repeat in a loop, looks at Eileen’s growth as a poet and lesbian.

Even though the story covers a period of around 20 years, the resolution occurs near the beginning of the timeline–when Eileen first discovers sexual relations with women.

Myles’s decision to use her own name for the protagonist in a tale that mirrors her own life is as casual as her other formal choices.

Inferno is not so much focused on challenging genre boundaries or exposing a fictional dream, but rather on establishing the environment necessary to tell its story truthfully.

Becoming a lesbian is not related to becoming a poet–Eileen was already a poet when she first slept with a woman–but with her becoming conscious of how she composes her poetry.

Sex deepens Eileen’s understanding of her creative process, expressed in both lyric and clumsy musings: “I looked at the poem I held in my hand. A tiny bone. It looked a little thin.

The thing is you couldn’t have all the fragments be the same size, right. Why would you do that? That’s just pathetic. Obtuse.”

We observe her struggle towards a concept until she reaches a realization: “I needed to win in some reverse way,” she mused, somewhat mysteriously. “I like sentences. Words. Like this walk. I don’t see everything.

And certainly not for the same length of time. What do I see? If I am going to be a lesbian, it will be everywhere in my work. Embedded, and I laughed.”

It is also plain to see the remnants of the book’s production.

After a discussion over a dinner party, as if recounted by various fish in their tank – exchanging dialogue and sadly gazing through the glass – Eileen deliberates over the fragment and, with her usual bravado, gives it the okay.

“Yup,” she declares, “this should be included.” Choosing the content to leave out isn’t any harder either. When Eileen and her companion James review her work, James suggests removing some pieces. “May I?” he inquired, looking at my poem.

had no objections. He initiated the white out. “I said, why not take that one too?,” I egged him on. “No, I can’t do that,” he responded. But Eileen kept pushing. “Go ahead,” she enticed. “My poem can be long or short – what difference did it make to me?”

The lack of structure in the language can be a problem, leaving readers unsure of what the author is trying to say.

Although this can be a limitation, it does not take away from the book’s enthusiasm and sexual confidence.

Towards the end of Inferno, Eileen seeks advice from her friend Tony on how to handle her feelings for a certain woman and he tells her to “declare it”.

After this realization, she realizes that poetry works in the same way: it is a passionate expression of one’s desires and emotions for the world.

The same sentiment can be applied to Myles’ novel.

— Emily Cooke, stated that

One way to avoid plagiarism is to restructure the text without altering the context or meaning.

This can be done by rephrasing the sentences, using synonyms and varying the sentence structure.

It is important to maintain the markdown formatting in order to preserve the original text.


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