Saturday, March 25, 2017

Blurbs for Medusa's Country

What a gift: a new book of searingly intelligent poems from a uniquely eloquent poet. Gut-wrenching honesty, spiritual courage, and unflinching vision are what it takes to visit Medusa’s Country. It’s not easy to find a guide to take you there, but Larissa Shmailo is ready for the job. She spares herself—and her reader—no pains in the search for home, drawing on the experience of her immense challenges—prostitution, alcoholism, drugs and insanity—and her immense advantages—a gift for poetic form, a razor-sharp mind, the spirit of a mystic, and a deep intimacy with world literature and culture— to share with us precious and hard-learned lessons: the necessity not only to survive but to triumph, and the crucial place of art and culture in that achievement. Brace yourself. Medusa’s Country is a book to savor, and Larissa Shmailo, novelist, translator, and poet of urgent maturity and resonant depth, is a writer to watch.
—Annie Finch, author of A Poet’s Craft: A Comprehensive Guide to Making and Sharing Your Poetry

Reading Larissa Shmailo's hypnotic Medusa's Country feels to me like cracking open a rare blue lobster to find a cache of rich, luscious green stuff contained within a living thing. At the heart of this viscerally dictioned masterwork of myth and ritual is an uncompromising dedication to formal poetic innovation. These poems parse matters of sex and literature, of life and death, not only of "I, Shmailo, dervish, a lover signed," but of all who walk the questioning edges of sound, sense and what poetry can do to you. 
—Lee Ann Brown, author of Other Archer and In the Laurels, Caught 
Medusa peels herself from the pages of mythology to become a denizen of New York City’s margins. There, she waltzes with Thanatos: “The dance with death? / Ah, this: as I flirt, you draw near.” When Eros shows up, he lures Medusa on a peregrination toward self. She packs her poet’s suitcase of prosody and nuanced rhymes. Along the way, the gorgon assumes other personae, including a whore named Nora. These poems lead the reader through histories of misogyny and sexual abuse. Convinced of her prowess, this Medusa stares into the mirror, where she confronts distorted notions of normalcy. Despite landing on a psychiatric ward, she frees herself with sardonic wit and blade-sharp language. With verve, with chutzpah, with urgency, Larissa Shmailo’s poems are spells, transforming stone into flesh and death into an affirmation of life.
—Dean Kostos, author of This Is Not a Skyscraper

Medusa’s Country lies somewhere between the medulla oblongata & the soul. piercing the body as you enter into it. lying in wait for the reader are many headed poems, some venomous, others painfully sweet, yet filled with melancholy & longing. some are songs about songs. arrhythmic rhymes that seduce the psyche. brutally honest & at times, frightening. rarely serene. all based in the mythology of what we refer to as “reality.” engaged with & trapped within their own freedoms. greco-roman images lying naked beside woody allen’s bad jokes, engulfing the elements, earth, stone, air, water with their “suicidal impulses,” varied forms & dreams. what is revealed is a mind tortured by its own beauty, anger & distress. a heart filled with emotions, denials, betrayals & refusals. self-denial & self-assurance. pride. pimps. hookers. lonely homeless “aliens.” 
this is a dance with death, love & an abundant ability to caress language & all its nuances. “the dead are dead, but not within me, my holocaust today, forever my bread.” a new archaic modernism much needed in a world of false romanticism & post-post language-oriented verse where the beauty of word/image has all but been subverted, seduced, abandoned & forgotten. even as shmailo decries “larissa’s rose is sick & consuming me” what we feel, beside extreme empathy, is the strength of her life force/breath as it forges onward while pondering even plundering itself. there are love poems that “crack…the force of gravity.” pleas. accusations. threats. drug induced psychoses. confessions of an often poisoned “being” who is so aware of the poison in others. “your heart beats not for me…your empty heart…you’ll be my heart / a numb flexible pleasure.” reach out & allow these poems touch you with their passions as they “turn particles into power.”
steve dalachinsky nyc sept. 2016

There are days I am bored with poetry and days I think it is a waste of human effort. Reading Larissa Shmailo’s collection reminds me why I love the genre and proves what kinds of beauty and intelligence can exist in language. There is a lyric lift to every line and a direct honesty in every message that heartens me and renews me. The poems in this book deserve to be read and read again. I thank the poet for the renewal of faith.
Okla Elliott, author of The Cartographer’s Ink and From the Crooked Timber

Resist Much / Obey Little Launch at Queens Museum 4/16

Resist Much / Obey Little Launch Reading at Queens Museum April 16

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Ulysses erasure poems up at the Altered Scale blog

Two Poems by Larissa Shmailo

Scylla and Charybdis

Unsheathe your dagger definitions.
Streams of tendency
and the eons they worship.

God’s noise in the street: Space.

What is a ghost? Dialectic:
No man, not a woman,
will ever know.

Oxen of the Sun

Send us, bright one, light one, wombfruit.
Before born babe bliss had; 
within womb won he worship.
Too, she will bring forth by God
His bounty and have joy of 
her childing. 
(A pregnancy without joy, 
a birth without pangs, a
body without blemish, a 
belly without bigness.) 

There, that got in, through pleading, 
her belly. And now on the stools,
poor body, two days past her time,
the midwives sore and can’t deliver.
The abnormalities of harelip, breast 
mole, supernumerary digit, straw-
berry mark and portwine stain.
Swineheaded, doghaired infants 
occasionally born.

Little father, little father:
The Minotaur.

*Note: Both poems are erasures from Ulysses

Friday, March 03, 2017


Buy Resist Much /Obey Little HERE!

Fifty percent of net sales go to Planned Parenthood!

Poets include: Nibaldo Acero Nancy Agabian Andrés Ajens Youssef Alaoui Rosa Alcalá Charles Alexander Will Alexander William Allegrezza Caitlin M. Alvarez Joe Amato Bruce Andrews Robert Archambeau Bob Arnold JoAnn Balingit Barbara Barg John Beer Ana Belén López Rosebud Ben-Oni John M. Bennet Steve Benson Jay Besemer Stephen Bett Richard Blevins BLUNT RESEARCH GROUP Andrew R. Boettcher Kathy Bohinc Charles Borkhuis Dianne Borsenik Michael Boughn Kent Bowker John Bradley Susan Briante Alan Britt Christopher Brown Lee Ann Brown Laynie Browne John Burns Melissa Buzzeo Don Byrd Anthony Cappo Xánath Caraza Brenda Cárdenas Jessica Wilson Cárdenas Kristen Case Hayan Charara cris cheek Chin-In Chen Maxine Chernoff Abigail Child Wendy Chin-Tanner chiwan choi Andres Cisneros de la Cruz Franklin K. R. Cline Norma Cole Victor Coleman Ed Coletti Matthew Cooperman Michael Copperman Joshua Corey Paul Corman-Roberts Lydia Cortes Ricardo Cortez Cruz Curtis L. Crisler Garin Cycholl Lyle Daggett Beverly Dahlen Pedro Damian Bautista Chris Daniels Ruth Danon Jill Darling doris davenport Michael Davidson Jenny L. Davis Jean Day Terence Degnan Ian Demsky Lynne DeSilva-Johnson Reed Dickson Linh Dinh Dante Di Stefano Thom Donovan Johanna Drucker Andrew DuBois Alice O. Duggan Denise Duhamel Patrick Dunagan Rachel Blau DuPlessis Marcella Durand Patrick Durgin Tongo Eisen-Martin Stephen Ellis Clayton Eshleman Carrie Etter Amy Evans Tanya Evanson Jim Feast Robert Fernandez Crystal Field Guillermo Filice Castro Bonny Finberg Annie Finch Norman Finklestein Norman Fischer Kass Fleisher Lewis Freedman Lisa Freedman Ru Freeman Bill Freind Philip Fried Gloria Frym William Fuller Kelle Grace Gaddis Matt Gagnon Forrest Gander Edgar Garcia Drew Gardner Joseph Gastiger Galo Ghigliotto David Giannini Robert Gibbons Daniela Gioseffi Judith Goldman Larry Goodell Nada Gordon Noah Eli Gordon Jaki Shelton Green Peter Milne Greiner Myla Grier Whit Griffin Rosemary Griggs Gabriel Gudding Jeff Gundy Eduardo Guzmán Chávez Rob Halpern Janet Hamill q.r. hand jr., Daniel Y. Harris Roberto Harrison Carla Harryman Quintus Havis Marwa Helal Michael Heller Jeanne Heuving William Heyen Matt Hill Owen Hill Brenda Hillman Jack Hirschman Andrea Hollander Bob Holman Darrel Alejandro Holnes Christopher Howell Detrick Hughes Brenda Iijima Alan W. Jankowski Lisa Jarnot Edgar Artaud Jarry Paolo Javier Brooks Johnson Judith Johnson Kent Johnson Patricia Spears Jones Pierre Joris Janine Joseph Fady Joudah Michael Joyce Judy Juanita George Kalamaras Eliot Katz Vincent Katz Tim Keane Douglas Kearney Burt Kimmelman Basil King David Kirby Davy Knittle Robert Kocik Ron Kolm Anja Konig Irene Koronas Dean Kostos Dee Dee Kramer Sean Labrador y Manzano Mark Lamoureux Susanna Lang Ted Lardner David Lau Patrick Lawler Mercedes Lawry Ruth Lepson Ken Letko Andrew Levy erica lewis Susan Lewis Genny Lim R. Zamora Linmark Joan Logghe Janice A. Lowe Brian Lucas Nathaniel Mackey Steven Manuel Filip Marinovich Al Markowitz Shelly Marlow Jack Martin Valerie Martínez Paul Martinez-Pompa Siwar Masannat Farid Matuk Syreeta McFadden Rubén Medina Caits Meissner Miranda Mellis Edric Mesmer Philip Metres elena minor José-Luis Moctezuma Juan Morales Laura Moriarty Sarah Morrison Andrew Mossin Erin Moure Laura Mullen Eileen Myles Sawako Nakayasu Joe Napora Uche Nduka Paul Nelson Murat Nemet-Nejat Richard Newman Brian Ng Joey Nicoletti A.L. Nielsen Joseph Noble Urayoán Noel Linda Norton Nita Noveno Jules Nyquist Gabriel Ojeda-Sague Peter O’Leary Adrienne Oliver John Olson Sergio Ortiz Gordon Osing Alicia Ostriker Maureen Owen Joe Pan Tamas Panitz, tr. Soham Patel Julie Patton Ted Pearson José Peguero Michelle Peñaloza Craig Santos Perez Emmy Pérez Michael Peters NourbeSe Philip Wanda Phipps Wang Ping Robert Podgurski Julien Poirier Tina Posner Robert Priest Patrick Pritchett Chris Pusateri Ruben Quesada Alicia Jo Rabins Charles Rammelkamp Margaret Randall Amanda Ngoho Reavey Tennessee Reed Margaret Rhee John Rigney Marguerite María Rivas Sherry Robbins Mg Roberts Kirk Robinson Kit Robinson MaVi Robles-Castillo Lasantha Rodrigo Luis J. Rodriguez Ruben J. Rodriguez Pilar Rodríguez-Aranda Linda Rogers Michael Rothenberg Julie Rouse Joe Safdie Lisa Samuels Edward Sanders Larry Sawyer Jared Schickling Jason Schneiderman Danniel Schoonebeek Ilka Scobie Hugh Seidman Jesse Seldess Anis Shivani Larissa Shmailo Evie Shockley John Shoptaw Laura Shovan Ron Silliman Sandra Simonds Jonathan Skinner Austin Smith Gerard Smyth Megan Snyder-Camp BJ Soloy Alan Sondheim André Spears Dani Spinosa Eleni Stecopoulos Julia Stein Winifred Celeste Davis Stragand Chris Stroffolino Terese Svoboda Eileen R. Tabios Nathaniel Tarn Ken Taylor t thilleman Lorenzo Thomas John Tipton James Tolan Edwin Torres Rodrigo Toscano KC Trommer Keith Tuma Matt Turner Arysteides Turpana Peter Valente, tr. Kevin Vaughn Lisa Vihos R.A. Villanueva María Villatoro Moisés Villavicencio Barras Lina Ramona Vitkauskas, Fred Wah Anne Waldman Lewis Warsh Joshua Weiner Marjorie Welish Donald Wellman Ross Wheeler Frederick Whitehead Walt Whitman Charles Whittaker Tyrone Williams Morgan Grayce Willow Suzanne Wise Lissa Wolsak Heather Woods Jeffrey Cyphers Wright Anton Yakolev Daniel Zimmerman Marilyn Zuckerman

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

The true face of America?

The true face of America - that is what Iran called Trump. There is no love lost between our two nations (I am blessed with Iranian friends who translate my work, so I mean the ruling politicals of Iran). But so: Trump symbolizes the ugly American---a marauding, selfish jingoist who rolls over anyone and anything that does not serve him. I read my share of Noam Chomsky (politics, not linguistics), and despite the dirty tricks and black ops, I still believed we were a great nation, flawed but still honorable, still great. Is Trump an outgrowth of who we really are, or a fluke of tweeting and too much TV? Have we been developing into an authoritarian state all along, or is Trump anomalous (and soon gone, I hope)?

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Monday, January 30, 2017

Poems accepted for publication in RESIST MUCH / OBEY LITTLE: Inaugural Poems to the Resistance

Pleased that  my two poems, "Whorl's Eyelet Captured" and "Lager NYC" have been accepted for publication in Spuyten Duyvil's RESIST MUCH / OBEY LITTLE: Inaugural Poems to the Resistance. Here's "Whorl's":

Whorl’s Eyelet Captured
(Fibonacci Sequence Syllabic: 0 1 1 2 3 5 8 13 21 34 55 89)
The number of syllables in the verses correspond to the Fibonacci number in the sequence. All words in the poem are made up from the letters of the title (except one).  



you howl. . .

are holy . . .

you heal, are heard: hear: 

Whose pure eyes tear, red arcs wetted?

Whose heresy elects? Who will select? You, petted

Howl! Whose trolls rap westerly trochees? You are scared, secretly care, are hard (how? ow!), healed.

Wholly here! Whose loyal laps are spared hotly? You allot acutely, adeptly. React: you are a royal red crypt. Holy, haloed, sealed?

How! Who? OURS! YOURS! Adulterers captured, whorl’s eyelet pastured!
Decelerate! Whore’s eye red, pour the tears. Educate (traduce). Clatter or rapture, pastures or captures, whose red caps cater, a parted sea? The alehouse is here, heeled.

How, who? A red letter! The Dane utters WORDS WORDS WORDS WORDS WORDS, or a puree, wetted, a treacle, a pact of red tears; they sear. Reduce (reeducate) your epaulets. Creep toward the words, curate the words, cure the words. Create heresy, push the crypts down. The tears of portly predators are sad, selected pees—ah, there is a who: you, a nascent howl, or two, healed.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Trump Meets Philosophy (Scheme, Theme, Meme)

M. Heidegger joined the Nazi Party
to further his career;
his ontological Being and Time
should be stuffed in Donald Trump's rear.

R. Barthes set forth mythologies
as rich as truth is true
He should be read to Donald Trump,
his henchmen and his crew.
Dear M. Foucault so loved the mad,
(so strong we sleep in snow);
Now let another clinic rise
and there the Trumpets blow.
by L. Shmailo

Thursday, January 26, 2017

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