Monday, January 26, 2015

TOD (Time of Death) (after “The Raven”)

All ways blocked, and future gloomy; suicide seems bright and roomy;
Now’s my chance for rebirth, I will leave this dismal life role.
I’ll return as Queen of Sheba, or a vampire, or a reaver,
or a saint who cures the nouveau riche, a wonderous, wealthy soul.
Yes, you see, I’ve found my niche, to preach and prosper, marvelous goal!
(Pills I took just took their toll.)

Now I feel my limbs start numbing; still my brain is bright and humming:
Opiates are worth exploration, Percoset’s a true vacation.
Who’s afraid of drug addiction? Warning labels purport fiction.
Strange, my blood’s slow circulation --- what’s up with my respiration?
Is this my Death’s anticipation? Death now or imagination?
Death’s approach now, or elation?

As my last act I will vomit, weakened, I will choke upon it.
As it turns out, life is real; and death the realest part; I depart.
While I thought of death as drama, it became this final trauma:
Painful ebbing consciousness, in shit and urine, and this last fart.
Life continues always, right? Now stop this, God, I need a new start . . .
(Cause of death, attack by heart.)

Thursday, January 22, 2015

My translation of Victory over the Sun is featured in Russia Beyond the Headlines!

My translation of the first Futurist opera, Victory over the Sun by Aleksei Kruchenych, is prominently featured in Phoebe Taplin's great article on the enduring appeal of the Russian avant-garde in Russia Beyond the Headlines. Thanks to my publisher, Gloria Mindock of Červená Barva Press, Eugene Ostashevsky for his brilliant introduction, and Alexander Cigale for the design and other help with this publication!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

"Philip Nikolayev’s Embedded Sonnets: The Combinatorics of Context" published in Vol. 1 Issue 4 of Ihe Battersea Review, Winter 2015

My critical article on Philip Nikolayev's immured sonnets, which are vispo, formal verse, and experimental poetry combined, appears in the current edition of The Battersea Review

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Compass Translation Award Ceremony

I'm please to be reading at the Compass Award-2014 Ceremony, which will take place at Poets House in New York, on Saturday, January 17 at 4:00 pm.

The presentation of Compass awards for Arseniy Tarkovsky translations will happen in conjunction with the launch of Volume 4 of Cardinal Points literary journal (presented by StoSvet Project, together with MadHat Press and Russian-American Cultural Center ).

This year's Compass Award Ceremony is dedicated to the memory of George Kline and Nina Cassian, both esteemed Cardinal Points friends and authors.

The poet for the 2015 contest will be announced at the Award Ceremony.

With questions concerning the event, please contact Alexander Veytsman, the Director of the Compass Award at

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Happy Russian Christmas!

Happy Russian Christmas, friends! С Рождеством, друзья! Best of everything in 2015!

Monday, January 05, 2015


Anapest, dactyl, iamb, trochee: Don't know what these metric feet are? Don't worry; by the end of this workshop, you will! We will read, write, and recite metric poetry and learn to scan poems using Shakespeare, Dickinson, Poe, Annie Finch, Timothy Steele, and others.

Comfortable space on West 72nd near 1,2,3 trains and M5, M72, and M104 buses. March 7, 14, 21, and 28 4-6 pm; $195. Enrollment limited. Preregistration required. Call 212-712-9865.

Workshop leader Larissa Shmailo is poetry editor of MadHat Annual, editor-in-chief of Twenty-first Century Russian Poetry, and translator of the Russian Futurist opera Victory over the Sun. Her work has been published in over 100 noted journals and will appear in the new Random House anthology of metrical verse, Measure for Measure.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Poem in Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion!

Delighted to learn today that the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion has accepted my poem, "Apple Bhagan of Mahadevi-Akka," for publication in their Spring 2015 issue! Mahadevi-Akka was a prominent 12th century Dravidian poet who wrote in Kannada, often to Lord Siva. A bhaghan (also bhajan) is a devotion or prayer. I will post the text of the poem, as always, after it has appeared in the Journal.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Cover of my novel, Patient Women!

I'm excited to share the cover of my novel, Patient Women, coming from Blazevox in April 2015. The cover image is Giampietrino's The Repentant Mary Magdalene and cover design is by Geoffrey Gatza.

Sunday, December 28, 2014


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 25, 2014

Christmas Star by Joseph Brodsky translated by Larissa Shmailo

In a cold time, in a place accustomed more
To scorching heat, than cold, to the flatness of plain,
than to hills: A child was born in a cave to save the world.
And it stormed, as only the winter’s desert storms rain.

Everything seemed huge to him: his mother’s breast,
the yellow steam of the camels’ breath. And from afar,
Their gifts carried here, the Magi, Balthazar, Melchior, Caspar.
He was all of him just a dot. And that dot was a star.

Attentively and fixedly, through the sparse clouds
Upon the recumbent child in the manger, through the night’s haze
From the depths of the universe, from its end and bound,
A star watched over the cave. And that was the Father’s gaze.

Monday, December 22, 2014

THE GYM (after "The Raven")

Once upon a Monday morning, while I sat, sedentary, scorning
Every form of exercise now known to womankind,
Suddenly I felt a calling, urgent, there could be no stalling
Of the fierce injunction that electrified my mind;
What strange new thought, bizarre, now entered in my mind:
“Go workout, girl --- pump and grind!”

Wait, I thought, this is function of an over-spicy luncheon
Eaten yesterday in haste, with sugar too refined;
Or my exes’s telepathic, typically, quite psychopathic,
Notions of the female form, the anorexic kind
(Never was that gentleman forgiving or too kind).
Once again, though: “Pump and grind!”

“Look,” I argued, “fads for fitness, come and go, as you may witness
And the body’s basically a receptacle for the mind;
Aging robs us of our vigor, so all this athletic rigor
Comes to naught in death which is to musculature blind;
Vanitas, o vanitas; best sit here and unwind.”
Said the gym’s voice: “Pump and grind.”

“This idea is overhasty; here,” I cried, “I have some tasty
Brioche and napoleons and Brie cheese and red wine;
This will kill this ludicrous impulse, and this nonsense thoroughly repulse,
No more thought of sweat and aches, I’ll eat, drink, and be fine;
I’ll just pour myself a drink, and sit here and unwind.”
Said my muscles, “Pump and grind.”

Now I lift a dozen barbells like a child with brand new marbles;
Watching all the fitness shows, new ab routines I find;
Every day I lunge, crunch, and squat, look with horror at my thigh fat
Just like every lost physique caught up in workout grind.
Sweat and sneakers and a trainer, I am humankind;
Actually, I look quite cute, now that I pump and grind.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Poems in The Enchanting Verses Literary Review

Delighted that my poems "In Paran" and "Love's Comely Behind" have been accepted by the Enchanting Verses Literary Review. Thanks to guest editor Marc Vincenz for this splendid pub!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Victory in Harvard University Library!

Am delighted that Harvard University is ordering a copy of my translation of the first Futurist opera, Victory over the Sun by Aleksei Kruchenych, for its library! Now available from Cervena Barva Press: order a copy for your library today!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Please join me for a reading and talk in Brooklyn

Friends, please join Anna Halberstadt and me at the Ryder Library tomorrow for a poetry reading and talk. This series is curated by Liana Alaverdova.

Thursday, December 11
Larissa Shmailo and Anna Halberstadt
Ryder Library
5902 23rd Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11204
6:00 pm

Blog Archive

About Me

My Photo

Larissa Shmailo's poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in the Penguin anthology Words for the Wedding, the Brooklyn Rail, The Unbearables Big Book of Sex, Barrow Street, Fulcrum, Drunken Boat, Gargoyle, Cardinal Points, Lungfull, Big Bridge, Rattapallax, and About: Poetry. She was the winner of the 2009 New Century Music Awards for spoken word with music for her CD Exorcism; her first CD, The No-Net World, is heard frequently on radio and the Internet. Larissa's books of poetry are In Paran (BlazeVox) and A Cure for Suicide (Cervena Barva Press). Read her new e-book, Fib Sequence (Argotist Ebooks) at (free download).

Larissa translated the original English-language libretto of the Russian zaum opera Victory over the Sun performed at the Brooklyn Academy of Music; it is archived at the Smithsonian, the Los Angeles County Museum (LACMA), and the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). Most recently, she received honorable mention in the international translators' competition for the 2011 Compass Award sponsored by Princeton University. Larissa translated a bibliography of Bible translations in the languages of the Russian Empire for the American Bible Society and contributed to the anthology Contemporary Russian Poetry published by Dalkey Archive Press.

Read Larissa Shmailo's new e-book, Fib Sequence, from Argotist Ebooks, FREE, at this link:

Larissa blogs at

And buy books and CDs and digital recordings here (so gratefully appreciated):