Tuesday, January 15, 2019


Thursday, January 10, 2019


Please add my events to your AWP schedule! Both happen Thursday, March 28.

12:00 pm to 1:15 pm

Portland Ballroom 256, Oregon Convention Center, Level 2
R214. The Critical Creative: The Editor-Poet() This panel will offer an insiders' look into poetry editorship and publication from poets who edit prominent journals and presses. How do these tandem roles, poet and editor, influence one another? Do they detract from or enhance poetry publishing? Does the critical mind impede the creative mind or strengthen it? How? Are certain poetic schools favored? Where does preference end and narrowness begin? Panelists will offer real-life anecdotes and insights on poetry selection and editing.

1:30 pm to 2:45 pm

B116, Oregon Convention Center, Level 1
R223. Hybrid Sex Writing: What's Your Position?() In The History of Sexuality, Michel Foucault argues that sex was not repressed in past centuries, but codified. How does contemporary hybrid sex writing crack these codes? Is there a relationship between gender politics and hybrid writing? How does hybrid writing give voice to marginalized gender identities? What is hybrid ecstasy? Is there a special connection between transgressive sex and hybrid writing? Panelists will discuss these questions with a focus on 21st-century writers.

Sunday, January 06, 2019


My love, I see myself in a fur coat lying face down, drunk,
on the floor of the subway train, one heel lost, & I feel a
hardened man raping me, my virgin soul frost, & awards
are easy, mama says, & they may pick and choose you, but,
they don’t know you, Ms. Boss, & my father says that I am
sexy & the time after that is lost & I know I am fat,
that I cost, & before she dies, mama says she wishes
I was never born, my death in my mother’s eyes, crossed,

but my love, see this chasm & wall here & be brave for me,
come swim the swamp around me & trust it is not within me,
or if it is, come love this swamp creature until it is drained,
and look at the dead in the moat, for here they will remain,
& sit here, still, with me & I will haltingly explain
I still love, beyond scars, beyond wounds, beyond pain

Friday, January 04, 2019

My "Best of 2018" Picks in Sensitive Skin!

The Sensitive Skin Best of 2018 issue is out! Thanks to publisher Bernard Meisler for including me!
Welcome to the fourth (fifth?) annual Sensitive Skin Stuff We Liked From Last Year! Remember, it’s not limited to items that were released in 2018, just thangs we dug the most in 2018. Of course, there will be disagreement – you might love some of the below choices, you might hate some of them ....

Thursday, January 03, 2019

My Review of EDJU by RW Spryszak


The Surrealism of War, Politics, Religion and Everything Else
By Larissa Shmailo
RW Spryszak;s Edju is a compelling, thought-provoking read, possibly one of the best antiwar novels since Dalton Trumbo’s Johnny Got His Gun. Its eponymous unreliable narrator is certainly as odd as Trumbo’s and every bit as opinionated. Edju’s point of view is skewed, we suspect, but the surreal world he encounters is undeniably more so. Populated by fantastic saints, monstrous war machines, and fatalistic animate metaphors of death, the world of Edju threatens us with the core horror of humans systematically killing one another for questionable ideas.
Reading Edju, I saw elements of the original picaresque novel in the adventures of its Quixotic, but always truthful, protagonist. But his story—a hagiography, perhaps, if Edju’s time-warping memory serves— is a continuing exercise in excess, an attempt to trump absurdist and surrealist writing of past several centuries. There are loud shout outs to Gogol’s nose and Kharm’s corpses, and more than a few scenes that are reminiscent of Kafka and even an absurdist Robinson Crusoe.
All of this is done in a slow reveal—we learn the name of the narrator, an old man mocked by children only in the eighth chapter. We assume Edju is mad, hopelessly odd, a compulsive-obsessive religious fanatic, a kook who thinks his dead lover is strangely and selectively alive in a sack. As his Nordic world unfolds in subsequent chapters, we come to believe this limited being is the only sane man on his dystopic nation.
The central conceits of the novel, Edju’s windmills, are surreal metaphors for war and competition in reduction ad absurdem: war machines fueled by human bodies, a Mountain of Flesh all are eager to climb, factions absurdly fighting over table cloths which have become their last banners, a Maze of defense. The path to war is depicted accurately, starting with pamphlets and the rise of fascism and inevitably followed by
Leftist Agrarian Front. Rightist National Unity. Holy Orders of the Fist of God. The Liberal Party. The Conservative Party. Liberal Conservatives and Conservative Liberals. The Armed Hand of the Nation. Nuns. All armed. All vying for power
Évitez les faux, they shouted. Libérez nos bébés, they called. N’accepte pas les substituts. It seemed like a full-scale rebellion was at hand. I had no idea if those phrases were in any way grammatical and correct. But in times of revolution even the commas get misplaced.
Religion fares no better than politics. In nomenclature reminiscent of David Foster Wallace’s Year of the Depends Undergarment, faith in Edju’s universe is represented by Bibliana, saint of headaches and hangovers, Our Lady That Didn’t Tumble, Saint Fomildehyde, and extremely peculiar paths to canonization.
The writing of Edju is synaesthetic and witty, replete with eyepopping detail, zinger similes, and wise one liners:
Death makes everyone an outcast.
There was a tan gray moon, a pure slice of venom in the blood, floating overhead.
Climbing up the em­bankment was a struggle, but her perfume reached out like a muscular ghost that held me close to its face of vapors. As wrong as elephants.
Left to the devices of nature all things decay. Why is this not the basis of the theory of everything they search for?
The rain fell so hard it opened graves.
If you are not them, you are the other. It’s in the Constitu­tion now.
Firing a gun is like fucking a ghost.
RW Spryszak’s unusual hero’s journey belongs on your reading list. Like many fine works that eptly mine and mime our culture, it is novel, in the first meaning of the word.
You can find the book here:

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

In-depth Interview about My #METOO Poem "&"

An in-depth interview about the emotional and creative process leading up to my poem, "&" which appeared in a recent edition of SHREW guest edited by Michael T. Young. Thanks to Christal Cooper for this kind write-up.
About this website
Chris Rice Cooper caccoop@aol.com https://www.facebook.com/car.cooper.7 *The images in this specific piece are granted...

Monday, December 31, 2018

Gratitude List

1. For my life as a writer, for the apparent insanity of writing poems
2. For my friends and colleagues
3. For health despite all I have done to impair it
4. For the ability to make needful changes
5. For three days clean from food addiction - thank you for your support!
6. For recovery from drugs, alcohol, nicotine, sex addiction, and codependence
7. For my life - for turning self-destruction into purpose. I never thought I would make 30 (neither did anyone else) and here I am, 62.
8. For the memory of those better than me that are gone
9. For my books, the children I leave behind
10. For you!
Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Goodbye Old, Welcome New

Another year, a good one except for Trump, and even he is now on the run; I say goodbye to 2018 with fondness. Creatively, the muse has been kind to me.
We said goodbye to the Cornelia Street Café with a bang with a Democratic poetry fundraiser before the midterms. "All-Star Women Poets Read" with Elaine EquiRachel HadasPatricia Spears JonesTrace Peterson, myself, and emcee Maggie Balistreri raised awareness and a big chunk of money as part of the global 100 Thousand Poets for Change initiative organized by Michael Rothenberg.
At AWP Tampa, I presented on the poetry of Claudia Rankine and Patricia Smith with illustrious co-panelists Marc VincenzElizabeth L. Hodges, and Michael Anania. I also did two readings with Dean Kostos in the New York Public Library system for our MadHat poetry books, mine, Medusa’s Country, and Dean’s, Pierced with Night-Colored Threads.
They say that if you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room. I was definitely in the right room at the brilliant Association of Slavic, Eastern European, and Eurasian Studies 50th Anniversary conference, where I presented on the experimental poetry of Alexander Skidan. Co-panelists on the contemporary Russian poetry panel were Evgeny PavlovEugene Ostashevsky, and chair Vladimir Feshchenko.
In 2018, I had pubs or acceptances in the St. Petersburg Review, the Journal of Poetics Research, Unlikely Stories, The New Verse News, Shrew, Intersections: Poetry with Mathematics, A Gathering of the Tribes, North of Oxford, the bilingual English-Bengali journal Shadowkraft, The Lit Pub, EcoPoetry, and Dispatches from the Poetry Wars, where I became a contributing editor. I also was included in the Italian compendium The Sound Poetry Library and the anthologies Bosch and Bruegel Poems and Choices: Poems about Abortion (editor Annie Finch). And the Poetry School based a course on the online anthology I edited, Twenty-first Century Russian Poetry (free at http://bigbridge.org/…/twenty-first-century-russian-poetry-…).
Extremely exciting is the publication of my new, very weird novel, Sly Bang, available now from Amazon and Spuyten Duyvil– launch date is March 6, 2019 at the Jefferson Market Library, so please save the date. I also look forward to AWP Portland 2019, where I will be on two panels, The Crtitical Creative and Hybrid Sex Writing: What's Your Position? (with Erica Jong!!!) and to reading at the New Orleans Poetry Festival in April- thanks to Jonathan Penton for inviting me.
Wishing you blessings of health, creativity, and love in 2019!

Monday, December 24, 2018

Come out of the darkness about depression this holiday! "OVER'"

On the perfect roof, near a perfect ledge,
A small terra firma with a narrow edge,
No temporizing with last-minute balance,
No handhold, no foothold, no anchor, no ballast.
And once committed, once into the air,
No hovering, no kiting, no waiting there.
The polygonal street and the shining dark cars
Attacked at meters per second squared.
Once over, soon over: a thing done just once:
Like fireworks and New Years’ bells, fast and intense,
Quite finite, soon finished, thought long, slow begun,
And forgotten by others like the old year now done.

Thursday, December 20, 2018



Your father’s fingers never got caught in a machine press.
You never saw the indigo marks on his nails as he never 
lifted a finger against you, but I knew what my library books 
 The world was yours, and if I objected on behalf of a man 
who worked overtime too many times, I was attacked as 
a Marxist, which I am —the indigo marks and the midnight 
 of a family that worked till they dropped, Mama, Papa, Baba,
Ded—taught me how to read. They never lifted a tired worn
finger against you – their labor was, you so often told them,
tea picked by tired black fingers in inherited cups, was their
Horatio-Alger-Oprah-Winfrey-lack-of -get-up-and-go, lack-
of-entrepreneurmanship-why-didn’t they-invest-in-the-market?
 I was permitted to woo your class, however, as your monkey
entertainment, your we-have-liberal- aesthetics poet. You
would dangle money and privilege (jump, artist, higher!) at 
my nose.
Read on:
I have never forgotten who broke my father’s hands, my
mother’s back, the cost of my library cards. There are seven
billion of us and we have not forgotten where we came from,
who started the war.
You should never have let them teach us how to read.


Thanks to Jonathan Penton of Unlikely Stories for publishing this excerpt from my novel, SLY BANG! You can purchase a copy from Amazon or from my publisher, Spuyten Duyvil, HERE 


Monday, December 17, 2018


Read Darryl Wawa's review

On reading Larissa Shmailo's "Sly Bang"

If you are looking for something to get out of your ordinary line of  thinking, Larissa Shmaillo’s Sly Bang ought to do the trick. The book is a psychological sci-fi filled with non-sensical gadgets, absurd dialogue, and all out madness, a batlle royale of good against evil, of womanhood against male perversion that follows William Burroughs's Naked Lunch in reverse, if we consider the gender roles of the protagonists. Lovers of Nikolai Gogol’s Madman’s Diary, and Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godotand Frantz Kafka’s stories will also enjoy this book, as opposed to religious and concrete minds, who, by all means, should  stay away from a book like this. Things pop out of nowhere. Characters have multiple personalities that change right before your eyes in ways that make complete sense in the universe created by Shmaillo,but would otherwise make absolutely no sense. And the language, disguised in a veil of blatant grotesquerie, will need a subtle reader to decipher its gems and eloquence. The novel is hilarious, gruesome, repulsive, pervasively perverse, sadistic and moral like a Rick and Morty episode and the story takes place in a building of 300 floors going down, reminiscent of a concentration camp. Nora the protagonist is trying to save the world from an army of sadistic Nazi perverts with whom she is also in love. Other notable characters of the cast are: Michael, her lover, helper and serial killer, Ouspensky, the leading antagonist, sociopath, indiscriminate rapist and also her lover and Larissa, Nora’s interchanging alter ego, and also the supreme ruler of all of Russia. The only thing that seems linear in the novel is the progression of time.
Here are a few hidden gems from the novel, quotes that confess our human tragedy, spread throughout the madness of the book:

“Interesting idea here about false identity, on a spectrum, in all of us, the ego as opposed to the true self. Survival identities shed in recovery to reveal true being and oneness with God. We are all false; who am I to judge?
“Is it evil to destroy evil?” (p65)


“Michael burst into Hawk’s office and shoved the plate of macaroons into her face. He grabbed Nora and began the ascent up 300 flights. It took him 50 flights to realize that Nora, his Nora, was in his arms.
This is holding a real live girl, he mused. This is much better than oatmeal. Even better than hot, if that were possible.
Michael’s energy surged and he flew up the stairs. But by -201, Michael felt his energy drain.
I can’t carry her another two hundred flights, he realized.”  (p69)

““the mind cannot bear a hurt too great to the heart” (p124)

The effect on the reader, is one of  surprise and shock. The author cleverly interweaves poems in the novel as passages from the main character’s journal. The interlude, a historical anecdote about Nora’s parent’s during WWII and her ensuing upbringing, comes in the middle of the story to ground the reader. We are told of accounts of concentration camps and of an unlikely story of survival not as predictably drenched in heroism as it is in betrayal. This second part of the novel surprises as it is told in screenplay format at first, before reverting  back to an ordinary past tense narrative with a ‘normal’ progression. The anecdote traces back Nora’s origins. Along this second part, the sprinkled poems and passages confess  personal feelings, musings, and history of the main character, revealing her troubled upbringing and unsuccessful first marriage. But afterwards, the book goes back to its madness. The chaos continues, and our protagonist is once again trying to save the world. In its exploratively chaotic style, the story comes across as a description and metaphorical answer to quotidian psychopathology. It is a novel in which you can enjoy your own madness, if you are in that mood, but it does so in criticizing outdated masculine behaviors and championing female flexibility. It is a highly entertaining book and worth the read.

“We women will never forget. Those who do not remember history, as those of us who have been drugged and tormented and raped and pissed on and STILL REMEMBER ... I don’t even have words for the contempt I have for you predators.” (p178).

Darryl Wawa is a Port-au-Prince born Haitian-American who studied Photography and Creative writing. He enjoys chocolate and good books. That said, maybe a movie is a good book. He loves to work with images and words and their pairing.

Saturday, December 15, 2018


by Joseph Brodsky

Translated by Larissa Shmailo

No matter what surrounded them and
what the blizzard wailed at the sand,
that their shepherd’s den was close, nor
that they had no place else anywhere:
First, they were together. Second (mainly),
they were a threesome now, and, plainly,
all created, anticipated, or gifted for them
was now shared by three, at a minimum.
Above, in the icy sky over their camp,
with the habit of big towering over slight,
glittered a star, which, from then on, had
nowhere to hide from the baby’s sight.
The bonfire blazed till the log’s last ember,
and everyone slept. The star, unlike others,
greater than its glow, at its absolute nadir
could know an alien as a beloved neighbor.
Не важно, что было вокруг, и не важно,
о чем там пурга завывала протяжно,
что тесно им было в пастушьей квартире,
что места другого им не было в мире.
Во-первых, они были вместе. Второе,
и главное, было, что их было трое,
и всё, что творилось, варилось, дарилось
отныне, как минимум, на три делилось.
Морозное небо над ихним привалом
с привычкой большого склоняться над малым
сверкало звездою -- и некуда деться
ей было отныне от взгляда младенца.
Костер полыхал, но полено кончалось;
все спали. Звезда от других отличалась
сильней, чем свеченьем, казавшимся лишним,
способностью дальнего смешивать с ближним.
Joseph Brodsky, 1990

Sunday, December 02, 2018

My Fibonacci Sequence Poem, "Aging," Up at Poetry with Mathematics


Aging (Fibonacci Sequence: 01123581321345589)



two (I)

I 2 threeeeeeeeee

5 school, ruled 2 three   

hate math 8/5 parents split divisor 3 & me

bad teen luck black eight-in-hole no triskaidekaphobe call five ringtones call.

now lucky legal drink: I’m old-gold-rolled ready-to-hold; I stick on 13 so play vingt-et-un with me tonight.

still 13 in the soul, getting old with a balding, working luck. 34 is dirty floor & still behind, & the legal drink now a double, hit me hit me & no! not prime.

Fivefive, now fivefive, finally loving the mother/other/the 21-still-angry child & forgiving the serious careerist, so knowing, so sure, so 34. Take our bald inner luck as it comes, let’s leave the dirty floor alone (why are these aches all right ,why are these losses, these losses, so possible to endure?) Five years plus ½ century, decoding while eroding, ofivefive. 

89 am I 8 or 9? The young ones are 34, my children 55. There are 13 pills in the morning, 13 pills at night. But what, exactly what might happen next? A working soul and another season’s turn, what else did I ever have? This world is greater than my numbers, the poésie of my self. I take the garbage out and set it on the street with joy. Tell me your secrets: I am the one who truly wants to know. Lemniscate, I move toward ∞ today.

Blog Archive