(NYTimes.com) On a recent Sunday afternoon, Eileen Myles came to meet me in the East Village on a white bicycle with brown leather handlebars.
We chose as our destination Saint Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery, a historic portal of downtown Manhattan a few blocks from the rent-subsidized apartment where she has lived for nearly 40 years. Since 1966, the church has housed the Poetry Project, which began as a government-funded attempt to address the teenage hippie runaway problem by offering free creative writing workshops, and which Myles discovered when she made her way to New York from Boston in 1974, then in her mid-20s, and not yet out as a lesbian. There, she found the poets drinking and smoking cigarettes around long tables in the church’s back rooms, at seminars run by Alice Notley and Ted Berrigan. Allen Ginsberg came to readings, the group’s leaders were heroes and the East Village felt, to Myles, like the center of anti-institutional American poetry. NY Times