Friday, April 03, 2020

LIT BALM - An Interative Livestream Reading Series

LIT BALM is a new weekly interactive livestream reading series brought to you by Jonathan Penton of Unlikely Stories Mark V and Unlikely Books, Marc Vincenz of MadHat and New American Writing (Magazine), and Larissa Shmailo of the Feminist Poets in Low Cut Blouses. This Saturday April 4 at 5:00 pm East Coast Time expect great writing, panels, special guests, chat, open mikes and YOU! Join the fun at https://us04web.zoom.us/j/949509843

Thursday, March 26, 2020

IN LANDMARK ABORTION ANTHOLOGY

I am honored beyond measure to be included in CHOICE WORDS: WRITERS ON ABORTION. The book includes work by Audre Lorde, Margaret Atwood, Lucille Clifton, Amy Tan, Gloria Steinem, Ursula Le Guin, Gwendolyn Brooks, Joyce Carol Oates, Gloria Naylor, Dorothy Parker, Anne Sexton, Ntozake Shange, Sholeh Wolpe, Ai, Jean Rhys, Mahogany L. Browne, Shirley Geok-lin Lim, Frank O’Hara, Vi Khi Nao, Sharon Olds, Judith Arcana, Alice Walker, Lucille Clifton, Molly Peacock, Carol Muske-Dukes, Mo Yan, Leslie Marmon Silko, Bobbie Louise Hawkins, Kathy Acker, Langston Hughes, Sharon Doubiago, and many other classic and contemporary writers. Huge congrats to editor Annie Finch on this essential volume!



SALMON POETRY TO PUBLISH MY COLLECTION DORA/LORA

Wonderful news, my friends! I am ecstatic, delighted, thrilled that Salmon Poetry is publishing my fourth full-length poetry collection, DORA/LORA! Thanks to publisher Jessie Lendennie! 
r publishing me!

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Into the Void Now Out - Read the Review of SLY BANG

Read Charles Rammelkamp's review of Sly Bang, which appears in the current issue of edgy print journal Into the Void.


Sly Bang by Larissa Shmailo
Reviewed by Charles Rammelkamp

“Sly Bang”
Novel
Spuyten Duyvil, 2019
$18.00, 198 pages
ISBN: 978-1-947980-98-3

Larissa Shmailo’s novel feels like a mash-up of William Burroughs’s paranoid mind-control fantasies and the kaleidoscopic space fantasies of superhero comic books. Indeed, the “sly bang” in the title alludes to the plot to destroy the universe by the – mad scientist? sui generis bad guy? – Prince Eugene (Genya) Ouspensky that the protagonist, Nora (as in Ibsen’s Doll House), aka, Larissa Ekaterina Anastasia Nikolayenvna Romanova, is determined to thwart. But this is not a traditional what-happens-next narrative, though by the end it does “feel” like a resolution has been reached.

But people die and come back to life all over the place, so who can tell, and we are often treated to flashbacks to World War II era concentration camps and Soviet gulags. Ouspensky pursues Nora/Larissa through the whole strange space-time warp of this science-ficitiony world. Ouspensky can read Nora’s mind, trying to control her. But “Larissa artfully dodges sex with Ouspensky by role-playing Anna and Vronsky, Lara and Zhivago, and he enjoys this.” Nora is an FBI agent (not necessarily a good thing, more sinister than salubrious) with telepathic, comic book superhero powers of her own.

Speaking of “sly,” Shmailo often makes these amusing, satirical references to the cornerstones of western civilization, from Heidegger and Nietzsche and Tolstoy to John Lennon and Patti Smith. “Hillary Clinton lay on the table wriggling, bound and gagged.” Johnny Depp provides occasional voiceover.

Shmailo uses a variety of literary forms in the construction of her novel. The book opens up, stage drama-like, with stage direction and setting and off-stage voices, as we encounter Nora masturbating on a leather couch.  As in a play, the dialogue is written:

MICHAEL:  Hey there!

NORA: Hello, Michael, are there walls between us, buildings, I hope?

MICHAEL: Yes, and I’ve triple-locked the door and bound my feet…

The writing then moves to a more conventional style of an omniscient narrator voice moving the story along. But don’t get used to any particular style! Shmailo seems to be having fun subverting readers’ expectations.

For just as easily, Shmailo will burst out into poetry, including sublime lyrics like HOW MY FAMILY SURVIVED THE CAMPS, Nora’s poem.

            Was micht nicht umbringt, macht mich starker:
            What does not kill me makes me stronger.
            Nietzsche said this about other things.
            Not this.

            How did my family survive the camps?
            Were they smarter, stronger than the rest?
            Were they lucky?
            Did luck exist in Dora-Nordhausen,
            Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen?

This comes from an episode involving Nora’s mother, Leda, in which we read in Nora’s backstory, reminiscent of the “origin story” of so many comic book superheroes. Leda, we learn, conceives Nora in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg in 1946 “with the last sex she will ever have.” Of course, Leda’s resentment about this is a factor later on.

But it’s best not to give away the plot, spoiler-like, especially as the plot, like a dream, is subject to the interpretation of every reader, which may be the ultimate point of Shmailo’s satire.  Still, after so much gore and blood and guts and sexual perversity, it’s hard not to smile at the fairy tale ending when the character Bensinck “dropped to one knee and took her hand” like Prince Charming swooning over Cinderella. Dim the lights. Shine a soft spot on the dude. With what seems the sincerity only an earnest fairy tale prince can display, he says to her, “No more undercover, no more faking it. Just us, and a quarter of the world’s land mass.” Hah!

And Nora, God bless her, having just a moment before read through a story she’s written about killing Ouspensky after he has an orgasm inside her (“ He starts fucking her with his tiny dick and Nora starts fantasizing about killing him and it turns her on.”), smiles sweetly and responds: “And create a world safe for our children, Albert? Or am I going too fast for you?”   

But wait, that’s not all! The story is followed by APPENDIX; NORA’S SLAA SEXUAL HARMS INVENTORY (FRAGMENT). Her sexual ideal? “I have sex with a man  whom I love and respect and trust and am attracted to and who loves and respects and trusts me and is attracted to me as part of a committed relationship and as a byproduct of sharing and partnership. Our sex is creative, playful, imaginative and hot. [following pages illegible]”  There follows a series of fragments about various men and her “reasons for getting involved.”

Do you get the uncomfortable feeling that Shmailo is playing the reader, having us on? It’s this discomfort that’s finally at the heart of the writing, masterful satire whose object is constantly shifting and, yes, may be you. You just have to read Sly Bang yourself and come to your own conclusions.  You won’t regret it.

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

AWP EVENTS CANCELLED


R128. CANCELLED: Translating the Untranslatable: A Reading of International Experimental Poetry.
R267. CANCELLED: What Kind of Times Are These? Immigrant Poets and the New Politics of Resistance.

Monday, March 02, 2020

Friday, February 28, 2020

My AWP Events

See you at AWP! Here are my events:
Translating the Untranslatable: A Reading of International Experimental Poetry with Jennifer Kwon Dobbs, Michele Gil-Montero, and Anna Halberstadt, moderated by Larissa Shmailo
Thursday, 3/5/20
9:00 am - 10:15 AM
Room 211, Henry B. González Convention Center, Meeting Room Level
What Kind of Times Are These? Immigrant Poets and the New Politics of Resistance with Valzhyna Mort, Anna Halberstadt, Larissa Shmailo, and Mariya Deykute, moderated by Olga Livshin.
Thursday, 3/5/20
3:20:PM–04:35:PM
Room 214B, Henry B. González Convention Center, Meeting Room Level

Monday, February 17, 2020

BARR MUST RESIGN

Bill Barr is a believer in the unitary presidency, the theory that the president has complete power over the executive branch, including the judiciary department; immunity from oversight; as well as other powers in direct violation of Article II of our Constitution and its framers' intent. We need legislation to uphold the independence of the judiciary, now protected only by norms easily violated by Trump and his AG henchman. And Barr should resign over his interference in the Stone trial, for lying about the Mueller report, and for using the judiciary for vendettas against Trump's opponents - even Barr is ashamed of himself, hence his embarrassment over Trump's tweets which reveal him to be the Trump tool he is.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Sunday, February 09, 2020

As LONG AS YOU STAY SMALL

The children at the border have evaporated the commercials show happy banks surely everything will stay the same and I will not be affected the documents about the children at the border have evaporated on the commercials the banks are happy surely I will not be affected I am small and will stay that way I AM AFRAID I didn't mean it when I said never Trump but Sheila did and she doesn't think we are happy and the same take her I am here in the happy bank it chimes so jovially the children at the border are no longer there we would care if they were the banks are happy jovially chiming and the commercials are the same happy happy and nothing will change as long as I stay small.

Sunday, February 02, 2020

SLY BANG REVIEWED IN INTO THE VOID


Read Charles Rammelkamp's review of Sly Bang, which appears in the current issue of edgy print journal Into the Void.

Sly Bang by Larissa Shmailo
Reviewed by Charles Rammelkamp

“Sly Bang”
Novel
Spuyten Duyvil, 2019
$18.00, 198 pages
ISBN: 978-1-947980-98-3

Larissa Shmailo’s novel feels like a mash-up of William Burroughs’s paranoid mind-control fantasies and the kaleidoscopic space fantasies of superhero comic books. Indeed, the “sly bang” in the title alludes to the plot to destroy the universe by the – mad scientist? sui generis bad guy? – Prince Eugene (Genya) Ouspensky that the protagonist, Nora (as in Ibsen’s Doll House), aka, Larissa Ekaterina Anastasia Nikolayenvna Romanova, is determined to thwart. But this is not a traditional what-happens-next narrative, though by the end it does “feel” like a resolution has been reached.

But people die and come back to life all over the place, so who can tell, and we are often treated to flashbacks to World War II era concentration camps and Soviet gulags. Ouspensky pursues Nora/Larissa through the whole strange space-time warp of this science-ficitiony world. Ouspensky can read Nora’s mind, trying to control her. But “Larissa artfully dodges sex with Ouspensky by role-playing Anna and Vronsky, Lara and Zhivago, and he enjoys this.” Nora is an FBI agent (not necessarily a good thing, more sinister than salubrious) with telepathic, comic book superhero powers of her own.

Speaking of “sly,” Shmailo often makes these amusing, satirical references to the cornerstones of western civilization, from Heidegger and Nietzsche and Tolstoy to John Lennon and Patti Smith. “Hillary Clinton lay on the table wriggling, bound and gagged.” Johnny Depp provides occasional voiceover.

Shmailo uses a variety of literary forms in the construction of her novel. The book opens up, stage drama-like, with stage direction and setting and off-stage voices, as we encounter Nora masturbating on a leather couch.  As in a play, the dialogue is written:

MICHAEL:  Hey there!

NORA: Hello, Michael, are there walls between us, buildings, I hope?

MICHAEL: Yes, and I’ve triple-locked the door and bound my feet…

The writing then moves to a more conventional style of an omniscient narrator voice moving the story along. But don’t get used to any particular style! Shmailo seems to be having fun subverting readers’ expectations.

For just as easily, Shmailo will burst out into poetry, including sublime lyrics like HOW MY FAMILY SURVIVED THE CAMPS, Nora’s poem.

            Was micht nicht umbringt, macht mich starker:
            What does not kill me makes me stronger.
            Nietzsche said this about other things.
            Not this.

            How did my family survive the camps?
            Were they smarter, stronger than the rest?
            Were they lucky?
            Did luck exist in Dora-Nordhausen,
            Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen?

This comes from an episode involving Nora’s mother, Leda, in which we read in Nora’s backstory, reminiscent of the “origin story” of so many comic book superheroes. Leda, we learn, conceives Nora in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg in 1946 “with the last sex she will ever have.” Of course, Leda’s resentment about this is a factor later on.

But it’s best not to give away the plot, spoiler-like, especially as the plot, like a dream, is subject to the interpretation of every reader, which may be the ultimate point of Shmailo’s satire.  Still, after so much gore and blood and guts and sexual perversity, it’s hard not to smile at the fairy tale ending when the character Bensinck “dropped to one knee and took her hand” like Prince Charming swooning over Cinderella. Dim the lights. Shine a soft spot on the dude. With what seems the sincerity only an earnest fairy tale prince can display, he says to her, “No more undercover, no more faking it. Just us, and a quarter of the world’s land mass.” Hah!

And Nora, God bless her, having just a moment before read through a story she’s written about killing Ouspensky after he has an orgasm inside her (“ He starts fucking her with his tiny dick and Nora starts fantasizing about killing him and it turns her on.”), smiles sweetly and responds: “And create a world safe for our children, Albert? Or am I going too fast for you?”   

But wait, that’s not all! The story is followed by APPENDIX; NORA’S SLAA SEXUAL HARMS INVENTORY (FRAGMENT). Her sexual ideal? “I have sex with a man  whom I love and respect and trust and am attracted to and who loves and respects and trusts me and is attracted to me as part of a committed relationship and as a byproduct of sharing and partnership. Our sex is creative, playful, imaginative and hot. [following pages illegible]”  There follows a series of fragments about various men and her “reasons for getting involved.”

Do you get the uncomfortable feeling that Shmailo is playing the reader, having us on? It’s this discomfort that’s finally at the heart of the writing, masterful satire whose object is constantly shifting and, yes, may be you. You just have to read Sly Bang yourself and come to your own conclusions.  You won’t regret it.




Charles Rammelkamp

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Trump's Second, Third, and Fourth Terms

I am having a hard time dealing with the post-truth environment tonight. The Russian military is at it again, hacking the 2020 election, the same actors that hacked 2016. The president tweets that he is protecting people with pre-existing conditions even as he is in court to eliminate these protections. Tonight, the constant barrage of lies and propaganda intensifies through new media outlets that outFox Fox (OAN). How easily we have adapted - no outrage, no people in the streets, everyone at home watching their six hours of repetitive hypnotic advertising, binge eating and binge watching. Honestly, I thought we would put up more of a fight. I was wrong. Welcome to Weimar.

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