© Michiel Devijver

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Bozar Bookworms: Evelyne

Colleagues read authors from our Talks & Debates

In 2024, Bozar will once again be welcoming a good mix of established and emerging talented authors who have taken the leap and written a book. A handful of colleagues headed to the library to read a book by one of the writers or thinkers you’ll be able to meet soon at Bozar. Curious about their findings on Thomas Piketty, Eileen Myles, and Peter Verhelst, among others?

Evelyne on Eileen Myles ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Managerial Head of Exhibitions Eveylne read Chelsea Girls (1994) by American writer Eileen Myles, who will be present at Bozar on 30 April for a meet & greet and poetry reading. Myles also contributed to the publication accompanying the exhibition Chantal Akerman. Travelling.


Hi Evelyne, can you briefly outline what the book is about?

Chelsea Girls is the memoir of Eileen Myles (they/them), who grew up in a quiet Boston suburb in the 1950s and 1960s and moved to rough-and-tumble New York City in the late 1970s to live an artist’s life as a queer poet. The story aptly connects a carefree, middle-class, suburban childhood with the bleak realities of the New York City art world.

Without seeking support in grand theories, the stories breathe the problems of an era: gender inequality and violence, the straitjacket of heterosexuality, Christian values, and the lost dreams of the working middle class in a small suburban neighbourhood.

Why did you enjoy reading this book?

I was immediately drawn to the cover, a portrait of a young Myles taken by renowned photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, which captures the mood and zeitgeist of the book.

I very much enjoy reading autobiographical prose. The book does not read chronologically and focuses on the final destination of New York City. It is a portrait of a generation. Chelsea Girls was translated into French not long ago (2023), but is now 30 years old. Yet the themes it covers, and thus the book itself, remain highly topical.

Why do we need to come to Bozar to see them? 

Bozar invited several artists to contribute to the publication accompanying the exhibition Chantal Akerman. Travelling: Eileen Myles, Sharon Lockhart, Latifa Laâbissi, etc. Myles wrote poetry for the book. Akerman inspired Myles, who also wrote the foreword for My Mother Laughs, the book in which Akerman describes her relationship with her mother.

It is quite an honour that Eileen Myles is coming to Bozar, which pairs their arrival with a writers’ residency in the flat at the Centre of Fine Arts, a new residency spot for artists.

Who would you recommend this book by Eileen Myles to?

People who like to read autobiographies and get sucked back into the zeitgeist of the seventies and eighties, the time of ‘Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n Roll’. Myles isn’t called the ‘rock star of poetry’ for nothing.

How many stars do you give this book?