Thursday, October 01, 2015

Readings in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Lafayette in November


Literary events in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Lafayette
Supporting the Festival of Words, Lyrically Inclined, and Unlikely Books

                                                CONTACT:    Jonathan Penton
                                                                        (337) 207-8713

 In the first week of November, 2015, south Louisiana publisher Unlikely Books will join with Lafayette’s premiere open-mic-and-slam series, Lyrically Inclined, and the Festival of Words in Grand Coteau in a celebration of the literature produced by and available to south Louisiana readers. Six writers from south Louisiana will join Larissa Shmailo of New York City, Michael Harold of Shreveport, and Wendy Taylor Carlisle of Eureka Springs, AR in a series of three literary events featuring diverse backgrounds, styles, and literary themes.
The events are called the “Unlikely Saints” tour, mimicking a similar tour in November 2011. Flyers and publicity photo attached.

Tuesday, November 3, 7pm-9pm
Elevator Projects
451 Florida St., Suite 102, Baton Rouge
(in the downtown Chase building)
No cover, wine provided
Readers include Xander Bilyk (New Orleans), Wendy Taylor Carlisle (Eureka Springs, AR), Michael Harold (Shreveport), Alex “PoeticSoul” Johnson (Lafayette), Dylan Krieger (Baton Rouge), and Larissa Shmailo (NYC)

Thursday, November 5, 6pm sharp-8pm sharp:
Crescent City Books
230 Chartres St., New Orleans
No cover, wine provided
Readers include Wendy Taylor Carlisle (Eureka Springs, AR), Michael Harold (Shreveport), Carolyn Hembree (New Orleans), Alex “PoeticSoul” Johnson (Lafayette), Christopher Shipman (New Orleans), and Larissa Shmailo (NYC)

Friday, November 6, 7:30 pm-9:30pm
The Ballet Académie
200 Polk St., Lafayette
No cover, wine provided
Readers include Wendy Taylor Carlisle (Eureka Springs, AR), Michael Harold (Shreveport), Alex “PoeticSoul” Johnson (Lafayette), Dylan Krieger (Baton Rouge), Larissa Shmailo (NYC), and John Warner Smith (Baton Rouge)

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

I am reading at Sidewalk for One Hundred Thousand Poets for Change Saturday, 9/26

The fifth annual One Hundred Thousand Poets for Change, New York City edition, will be held at the Sidewalk Cafe on Saturday, Sept. 26th. This event was curated by Valery Oisteanu, and will be MC'd by Ron Kolm,

Readers include Claudia Serea, Tom Walker, Allan Graubard, Kat Georges, Peter Carlaftes, Ronnie Norpel, Bill Wolak, Larissa Shmailo, David St-Lascaux, Yuko Otomo, Steve Dalachinsky, Shelley Miller, Carl Watson, Wanda Phipps, Jeff Wright, Ilka Scobie and Kelvin Daly.

All thanks to Michael Rothenberg for creating this wonderful world-wide event for peace!

Sidewalk Cafe
94 Avenue A, New York, NY 10009
6:00 pm
(212) 473-7373

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Books for Readers review of Patient Women (full text)

Probably the biggest surprise of my summer reading was Patient Women by Larissa Shmailo. Shmailo is a highly accomplished poet, editor, and translator (see my review of her poetry in Issue # 169) . She does a lot of so-called "mixed" media, and she blogs at She is productive and successful, and lives a rich life in the arts.
She is also a survivor and child of survivors, and in her new novel Patient Women, she fictionalizes pieces of her life and recreates passages from her parents' lives as well as creating searing poems ostensibly written by her character Nora Nader.
There is plenty of recreational sex and drugs and drinking and also sex work, and brilliant recreations of the downtown milieu of New York City in the nineteen seventies. Much, much sensation and despair and struggle. There are whorehouse discussions during down time about what you want in an ideal client, and there are stunning shocks: at one point, Nora finally finds a man who has potential as a long term partner. They marry-- and he drowns on their honeymoon.
Nora's life is out of control, but the novel is completely in the novelist's control. In her great confidence in her own powers, Shmailo moves towards the end out of the straight narrative into a series of experiments in story telling and genre.
The bulk of the book is the grim narrative of Nora's dive into the lower depths and her grumbling return to sobriety through the efforts of a saintly trans friend who is dying of AIDS. Then, Nora begins to press her mother to repeat and explain family stories of their time in concentration camps under the Nazis: how they survived intact. She includes her mother's stories as free-standing short works, and it becomes increasingly clear that the family was not intact at all. The stories throw Nora into a near psychotic state of remembering that seems like too much for one person to bear. She says goodbye to Chrisis, her dying sobriety sponsor. She gives support to a dying stranger, money to a beggar. She notices that the world is still around her. And then come the poems, which act both as a reprise of the themes and events of the novel and also also as unnarrated evidence of Nora's talent and hopeful future. It is a gamble, to end a novel with so many passages in a different genre, but it pays off beautifully: Nora doesn't forget, perhaps doesn't even move on completely, but she can be with people. She can create.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Great review of my new novel, Patient Women, in Books for Readers

I'm deeply grateful to Meredith Sue Willis for her review of Patient Women (read below). She has fully understood my protagonist's (and my own) salvation: we can create; we can be with people.

Books for Readers review of Patient Women

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Connotation Press Interview

I'm delighted to be interviewed by the wonderful MegTuite in the current issue of Connotation Press,with excerpts from my new novel, Patient Women, and a PTSD poem.
Connotation Press interview with Larissa Shmailo

Great review of Patient Women by Meg Tuite!

Dive into the deep end: read this novel! Unforgettable and mesmerizing!
By M. Tuite on August 27, 2015
There are many categories of writing, but as readers there are two distinct places we tend to go: either `escape from reality' mode or `dive into the deep end' through writing that unnerves us on a personal level. The poems/stories or novels may be situated in different continents, cultures, even species, and yet they confront us with fragments of ourselves that defy diversity.
Shmailo's work takes me to places in my life that I am both afraid and compelled by. There is no escape here. It is about recognition and a fortitude that didn't exist before. It is about finding oneself again, in amazement and thankfulness, through another writer's words.
Here are some quotes from Shmailo's novel, Patient Women.
"There was anger in the house, anger in the very walls."
"Home life acquired a dangerous sameness."
"Nora had learned to detect the subtlest shifts in the affective atmosphere of her home: she became expert in detecting and defusing the charges, like a teenage bomb squad."
"Nora kept rattling him like a jammed door she was sure she had the right to enter."
"God writes straight with crooked lines, Nora..."
Shmailo takes the reader into the world of a strong, sensitive, acute protagonist, Nora, who moves through many lives in this novel. She is a sex worker, a brilliant woman, an incest survivor, a woman who takes us into the streets and wrestles with her/our inner/outer demons. "Patient Women" is a novel everyone should read. There is no shrinking back from the violence Nora experiences and witnesses and the power of Shmailo's brilliant writing that takes us inside all of it.
Don't miss out on this! Get a copy and find yourself mesmerized and changed by "Patient Women". WOW!!! Unforgettable!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Russian Launch Party for Larissa Shmailo’s Patient Women (press release)

For immediate release
Press contacts:
Larissa Shmailo
Regina Khidekel

Russian Launch Party for Larissa Shmailo’s Patient Women
Uncle Vanya’s
315 West 54th Street
New York, NY
Tuesday, September 8, 2015
7:00 to 10 pm
FREE; open to the public
New York City. A real Russian launch party will celebrate the publication of poet Larissa Shmailo’s debut novel, Patient Women, on September 8. Sponsored by the Russian American Culture Center, the event features the talents of a glittering host of prominent Eastern European and New York City literary figures, including Alex Cigale, Steve Dalachinsky, Bonny Finberg, Andrey Gritsman, Patricia Spears Jones, Ron Kolm, Irina Mashinski, Yuko Otomo, Audrey Roth, and Thad Rutkowski.
About Patient Women
Patient Women has been called “a brutally honest wrestling match of truth-telling and sex” and “the best book . . . about this period of life in NYC since Patti Smith's Just Kids.” Thaddeus Rutkowski, author of Haywire, writes:
Larissa Shmailo’s Patient Women tells the story of Nora, a gifted young woman who comes of age in New York against heavy odds. Her Russian mother is demanding; the young men around her are uncaring; and her dependence on drink and sex leads her to a shadowy life filled with self-made demons. Yet Nora’s intelligence pulls her through the difficult times—there are even moments of (very) dark humor here.
Anne Elliott, author of The Beginning of the End of the Beginning, adds:
Christ-figures are likely to be cross-dressers in this engaging bildungsroman, which takes us on a wild ride through NYC nightclubs of the 1970's, rock-bottom blackouts, a whorehouse, and the slogan-filled rooms of recovery. Surreal and lyrical, then bawdy and riotous, then plainspoken and tragic, Patient Women had me rooting hard for its lovable, drowning heroine to keep her head above water and let in grace.
The Russian American Cultural Center
The Russian American Cultural Center (RACC) sponsors readings, art exhibitions, film screenings, and other events of interest throughout New York; for more information about RACC, see their website at
The launch party for Patient Women is free and open to the public. Books will be available for purchase and signing by the author at the event. Patient Women is also available on Amazon at

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Save the date! The NYC Patient Women launch party 9/8

Friends, save the date! The NYC launch party will happen Tuesday, Sept. 8 at 7:00 pm at Uncle Vanya's, 315 W 54. Readings by Alexander Cigale, Steve Dalachinsky, Bonny Finberg, Patricia Spears Jones, Ron Kolm, Irina Mashinski, Yuko Otomo, Audrey Roth, Thaddeus Rutkowski, yours truly, and other special guests. More details as I get them.This event is sponsored by the Russian American Cultural Center, so it will be a blast. I absolutely hope to see every single one of you there!
Patient Women

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Friday, July 31, 2015

Moderating a Panel on "Metrical Illiteracy" at AWP16 in LA

I was delighted to learn that my proposal, "Endangered Music: Formal Poetry in the 21st Century," has been accepted to AWP 16's program in LA.  The all-star panel includes Annie Finch, Timothy Steele, Amanda Johnston, and Dean Kostos.  Our topic follows.

What are the consequences of what Brad Leithauser has termed the "metrical illiteracy" of contemporary poetry in the U.S.? Poetry readership here has diminished, in contrast to the vitality of poetry in countries where formal poetry is strong. Offering controversial views from a now minority aesthetic, panelists will discuss why basic knowledge of metrical analysis and prosody has waned and why accentual forms such as spoken word are popular.  We will demonstrate the essential role of music in poetry today and as a tool vital to understanding poetry of the past.

If you are in LA next AWP, I invite you to join us.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Evan Myquest's Review of My New Novel, Patient Women

Evan Myquest's review of my new novel, Patient Women (thank you, Evan!)
I thought this book looked me in the eye and dared me to keep up. There are times I wished Ms. Shmailo was a less gifted storyteller as her protagonist Nora's turbulent history accumulated detail by detail, a brick by brick walling in of her life. With a symphonic score-like style complete with spiraling themes and backtracking recapitulations (a tiny mercy in case the reader lost pace), there is no doubt a master is at work. There is even an appendix of brilliant poetry that becomes a jazzband distillation, a coda, of the generational storylines. If you have read Ms. Shmailo before, this is everything you have waited for in a novel by her. And so much more.
Larissa Shmailo’s Patient Women tells the story of Nora, a gifted young woman who comes of age in New York against heavy odds. Her Russian mother is demanding; the young men around her are uncaring; and her dependence on drink and sex...

Friday, July 24, 2015

Rant Alert: Abraham Hicks

Rant alert: Is there something about people who can speak volubly in long impassioned spurts that is attractive? I am listening to Abraham Hicks, the teacher of the well-loved Louise Hay, and he/she/it orates that way, as Hitler did (Abraham is an non-corporeal energy being, channeled by a woman called Ester). In essence, Abraham advises that you seek your bliss and vibrate at that "frequency" to manifest everything you want, which is being stored up for you in a personal "vortex." You must always remain on a "high disc." Helping others, quoth this rather Ayn Randian alien, causes you to leave the "high flying disc" and you must seek to "inspire" others rather than lend a hand.

I love Louise Hay and much this Abraham says has merit. But both suggest constant positive emotion. If a situation is bad, then affirm it is good. A belief in a negative government, says Louise, perpetuates said; affirm the Tea Party is loving and honorable. Don't watch the news, Abraham and Louise advise, even as armed militias are walking our streets. Let the enormous yachts and conspicuous consumption of the wealthy give you pleasure; if you don't admire the rich, you might not become one of them. Don't look at statistics about poverty, and don't be codependent and slip from your high disc by wondering how many meals-on-wheels the wealth in that yacht might buy.

I like positive thinking as much as the next poet, but constant meditation on unreal thoughts, saying what is bad is good, is Orwellian doublethink, doublespeak. And it may be in the better interest of some of us to help one another than lose ourselves in atomizing and alienating new age philosophies. I am not saying that Louise Hay and Abraham are tools of the powers that be, but they are a great help to them.