Eileen Myles Privileges the Pathetic
“In general poems are pathetic and diaries are pathetic,” writes Eileen Myles in the introduction to Pathetic Literature, an anthology published last month by Grove Atlantic. Myles will speak about the collection with Camille Roy at Womencrafts (376 Commercial St., Provincetown) on Sunday, Dec. 18 at 5 p.m. Artist Kathe Izzo and musician Pat Kearns will also participate.
The nearly 700-page book makes an impassioned (and unexpected) case for the “pathetic as a badge of distinction.” It collects a wide selection, from poems of sin and seduction by 17th-century Mexican nun-philosopher Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz to gut-swirling snippets of heartbreak and sweetness by contemporary multi-genre writer Maggie Nelson.
A highlight is historian Saidiya Hartman’s piece “Manual for General Housework,” a critical inquiry into the meaning of words like manual and handled. The “manual,” Hartman says, is about “the concrete, the physical, the embodied as opposed to abstract knowledge and the formulation of it.” (It relates to Myles’s assertion that the pathetic most often gets associated with craft as opposed to art.)
Other notable writers among the more than 100 represented include Jorge Luis Borges, Rumi, and Gwendolyn Brooks. Myles writes that contributors were selected “for their dedication to a moment that bends.”
Each writer regards the pathetic distinctly — and sometimes intangibly. But that’s apt for the project. “I think everyone should be able to pick a word that moves them,” Myles writes, “and occupy it.”
The event is free. See eileenmyles.com for more information. —Sophie Mann-Shafir
Working From Life
The Provincetown Art Association and Orleans Modern Art both offer opportunities to practice life drawing skills this winter.
The life drawing class tradition at PAAM extends back to its earliest days and continues on Tuesdays and Fridays from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. throughout the year. A mix of beginners and established artists participate, and all levels are welcome. Models hold long poses at Tuesday sessions and shorter ones on Fridays. For those working from home, Zoom sessions — in which a camera setup allows for portrait view and full-body views of the model — are offered in some weeks. Classes cost $12 per person, and registration (online or by phone) is required, along with masks.
Orleans Modern Art hosts drawing sessions with a live model on Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to noon. Participants can draw or paint, and the gallery provides charcoal, graphite, and newsprint for gesture drawings; participants are required to bring their own materials for longer poses. A rotating selection of models — male and female, clothed and nude — begin each session with five-minute poses, then move on to a few 20-minute poses before a final pose that lasts for one to one and half hours. Classes are $25, and spots can be reserved on the gallery’s website.
“I think a lot of people have been looking to get out and draw from life more after being locked away and doing everything on the computer for so long,” says gallery owner Peter Kalill. “It’s a great way to stay in practice.” —Abraham Storer