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

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Text of PHYLUM

This poem appears in the current issue of The Common.


Came a homeless man, without a foot,
dressed up in a new canvas sack,
tied up with a belt in the usual style,
and an Alfalfa tower of hair (all in soot)
with lint in the vertical layers.

He was walking down Fifth
and he put down his bags
by the church of St. Thomas Divine,
and he stopped and he stood
and he stooped from the stairs,
and recited the following prayer:

I’m a mollusk, he said, no, not always purblind,
with a very small heart and a brain,
with a siphon to breathe and some jelly to float
and a useful, for swimming fast, foot.
I used to have teeth but do not any more.
There are 10 to the 5 types of me, (2)
and our shells and our cores are about the same shape,
though our shells are what you’d want to see.(3)
I lay millions of eggs; they swim freely, unseen,
and then sink all alone in the sea. (4)

1. From Gr. phylon, “race, stock,” related to phyle, “tribe, clan,” and phylein, “bring forth”
2. There are nearly one hundred thousand known types of mollusks, including snails, slugs, clams and other bivalves, squids, and octopi. The colossal squid, at up to 33 feet long, is one of the largest invertebrates.
3. At this point in the story, two investment bankers from the crowd rushed to Cartier to buy the homeless mollusk a diamond hair pick; some bystanders from the Sorbonne rubbed organic avocado lotion on his foot; and a girl in a dress from Henri Bendel arm-wrestled a punky paralegal to see who would take him home.
4. This happened, or will.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Cardiac (Ghazal)

My heart is sick and foul, a chest of anguished cries.
My heart attack explodes, arrest of anguished cries.

Clinicians think I’m Job; they jab and prod my veins.
Pathology calls for a test of anguished cries.

They check my pulse and beats with meters stupidly.
My naked heart unrobes, undressed of anguished cries.

A sphygnomameter can’t sound my misery;
I blame my rose divine, caressed of anguished cries.

Larissa’s rose is sick and is consuming me;
Cardiomyopathy, my fest of anguished cries.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Four poems in New Mirage Journal; text of "Copy Cat" (explicit and graphic)

I have four poems in the current issue of New Mirage Journal; here's the link to all four: The text of "Copy Cat" (explicit and graphic, as violence against women is) follows. Still not asking for it.

Copy Cat

you know, the last time I worked like a working girl
Satan he comes to my house
I mean visits he’s one of those boys who
can’t come unless he kills someone
he strips
takes his clothing off
takes the uniform
the badge the boots the trooper uniform off
his little Hitler mustache is all he’s got on
and I say sipping scotch — oh my there look at your wee wee
Satan say honey don’t be talking baby talk
what you see here is my prick
and I say not so kindly I’m a little drunk I say:
Satan baby
officer mine
I hate to inform you
hesitate to inform you
wouldn’t dare to inform on you
but Satan
I’ve seen plenty of pricks
miles of cock
rollpoles of penises
and Satan
what you got there
is a wee wee

a hot dog (not)
a mean love muscle (I don’t think so)
a throbbing cock?
well no
not until you get me in your arms and pin me down
beat my face
slam the bottle up my cunt
fuck my ass until it bleeds
then yer a brick house
when you see blood yer pretty hot

and I say
call the police
but yer already there

since I’m going to die
come on baby
let’s have a date
we can talk some more
I know you love to talk and stalk
look watch:
watch me through my window
I know you’re there
little man
I see you
and I don’t care
you don’t exist
you’re just a wannabe in a uniform
I stand naked in the window
mocking you every night
you dream of dismembering me
you want to push my face
my laughing mocking face
so far down into the ground
you can’t see anything
no eyes no laughing mouth
just the back of my pretty head
like a pumpkin
ready to smash you want to
push me down into the ground make me eat gravel make me eat dirt make me eat my laughing mocking words saying no no
not you
everybody else
anybody else
but not you
you want to
shut my big laughing mouth
throw me to the ground dance on my back till it breaks till it bleeds
you want to wipe
the smile and the lipstick off my face
put blood where the red paint is
like it like that

my butt is yours just for just one night
as long as you’re holding that shiny knife

oh baby
I call the police and there you are
cop cop copy cat
but you can’t dance and you can’t come and you can’t even move your gun
unless you see the fear and scum
do you kill young boys
cause you can’t get it up
do you kill young girls cause you can’t get enough

georgy porgy pudding and pie
kiss the girls
kiss the girls
kiss the girls
kiss the girls
kiss the girls
kiss the girls
kiss the girls
kiss the girls

can’t come unless they run can’t come until they run can’t come until they run
until they twist and shout
how many will you have to kill to
shut my laughing mocking mouth
red with lipstick
wet with
other men’s come
how many will you have to kill
to make me want you
notice you
remember you’re alive?
how much attention do you want how much attention do you need you ain’t never gonna get my undying undying undying attention

that’s the way you like it
no longer even
screaming moving
only the twitching of my dying limbs only that warm soft blood like the animals you killed when you were small mama said they were going to God and you just helped and now you see the inside of me I’m losing blood I’m fast asleep so peaceful now you feel the love I feel for you we’re finally one I’m going soon and we are one how much how much how much love

and now finally I understand and darling
I’ll never laugh at you again mock you point to your tiny itsy bitsy penis
your tiny little boy penis and laugh saying
ain’t never gonna be no man
I’m your mama
and baby I know
watch me little boy I’ll undress for you pull you over
let you
come to mama
be with mama
come watch mama
little boy
but yer
too little
too little
I go
with the men
just watch
and I’ll laugh and my lovers and everyone else
will laugh at you
and how you will love me
till the day I day
especially on the day I die

come on push my face down into the ground you’ll be my dad
and I’ll
your mom
and this time
really know you’re there.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Text of War, for C.K. Williams, in the current Levure littéraire


For C.K. Williams

Reading the prose of young media scribes, absorbed, as they are,
with sex and money, and the need for status, even among orgiasts,
I pause. How they claw, struggling for cabs, cars with bars, and the
nod from Cerberus at the door of the club, as if from him,
his acceptance, could come entrée to it all, the whole nine circles of desire.

But Buddha was right, and it makes for lousy verse, the cascade to the fallen
from fulfilled. The rituals are old, and the same rachitic claw
reaches over us all. And so, torn, we tear, primordial as the air.

We live in parts. The rich ones know. Their eyes caress metals,
held tightly to the chest, played closely to the vest, thrown stingily
among the just-good-folks. You won’t find the address of an arms factory anywhere.
We don’t know. An igniter built in Chappaqua, a pull-pin glazed in Maine,
in Idaho a shell. We need arms, military muscle, American dough.
Watch it blow.

Skeleton, skeleton, step on a crack,
live grenade payback, Jack Iraq.
Shrapnel tears run moist and red.
There, there, there, there (he was six)
there, there, there, there (she has no hand)
there, there, there (his spine is torn)
there, there, there (her head is gone).

A small time to be alive. A very small time to be alive, short enough
to pretend we’ve done no harm. Thanatos is a blind-man’s bluff,
an ignoramus with a stake, a what-were-we-thinking?, a mistake.

How did we not know there was really no other? How could we, eyes
and legs, mouths and heart, all the same, damn it, same, how could
we see anything else but we? No fires or fall, just beloved all?

Maybe as the last breath—will we know it as last?— as the last breath
goes, we—will we know any we?—we might feel another’s dying breath
that we might know someone else’s as we know our own death.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Four poems in Levure Littéraire: To the Thanatos Within Me

Delighted to have four poems in Levure Littéraire. Thanks to Helene Cardona for including me! Here's one of them. Link to all four at


I embrace you, dear shadow,
my revelatory friend,
dear suicidal impulse; today
I dream of the parapets above
A la Vielle Russie, and
of splattering near the Plaza
where Woody Allen wooed young girls,
leaving a bit of me
on the Strand Bookstand,
near the park and the seals —
but this is too vibrant and real.

Better to find myself alone
in a porcelain tub
with chamomile bath oil
(as if I needed to be calm;
there is eternity for that),
listening to Verdi’s Requiem,
holding a razor,
or better still, to poison myself
with small scored rose pills,
avoiding arsenic and the Bovary traps
of indigestion, detection;
best with caplets, red carafes of wine,
or Guinness brew —
(who wouldn’t want to quaff a few?)

What catharsis there is
in the dive, the gesture, the infinite jest,
the slash, the brush (its own fire),
the dance with death?
Ah, this: as I flirt, you draw near,
chingon to my chingada
bite my ear, stop my breath—
who else could do that?

Dear friend of ferment,
who unearths the worms
that enrich this blissful human soil,
promising the end of eternal roil:
Te quiero, my Mescal, my absinthe,
my blue cyanosing corps, my Mayakovsky, my you. . .

Was this a mistake? Is it too late . . . ?
You bite my ear, take up my rear, whisper:

Friday, November 21, 2014

My poem, "Phylum," published in The Common

Was delighted to receive copies of The Common yesterday with my poem "Phylum" in them! This poem has footnotes and it was laid out perfectly. AND I received a check for my work! Thanks to John Hennessy, poetry editor, and to everyone at this superb poetry journal!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Cervena Barva Press announces Victory Over the Sun translated by Larissa Shmailo

Cervena Barva Press announces "Victory Over the Sun"
The First Futurist Opera by Aleksei Kruchenykh
Translated by Larissa Shmailo; edited and with an introduction by Eugene Ostashevsky

"Victory over the Sun, one of the most important events in Russian Futurism and in the avant-garde in general, is not well recognized in the West. Now in a new edition of Larissa Shmailo's brilliant translation of the text, with a lively introduction by Eugene Ostashevsky, readers can appreciate the significance and innovativeness of the 1913 play. Using Shmailo's translation and Malevich's pathbreaking stage designs, the play was reconstructed and staged in 1980 to great acclaim and remains a signal accomplishment in the history of the avant-garde."
—Gerald Janecek, Author of Zaum: The Transrational Poetry of Russian Futurism (UCSD, 1996) and Sight and Sound Entwined (Berghahn Books, 2000)

"Velimir Khlebnikov, literally, missed the train on co-penning this one, contributing only a poem to Kruchenykh's libretto. Staged alongside Mayakovsky's Vladimir Mayakovsky, A Tragedy, the 1913 original production of Victory is remembered primarily for Kazimir Malevich's costumes, lighting, and set design, instigations for the Suprematism and Constructivism still to come in 1915 and 1919, respectively…. Nothing is more fitting for this centennial of "Russian Futurianism" than a celebration of Kruchenykh's great contribution to poetry, his Zaum, and not just for its verbal play – the inventive neologizing and the épater-le-bourgeois utopianism – but for the underappreciated antilyricism of his verse, as well. In communicating to us his musicality in English, Larissa Shmailo has done a remarkable job in conferring on Kruchenykh his true due as a poet." —Alex Cigale, Translations Editor of MadHat Lit

"A century ago, Aleksei Kruchenykh was the way out writer's most way out writer. If publishing today, he still would be."
—Richard Kostelanetz, Author of A Dictionary of the Avant-Gardes (Routledge, 1993)
#Victory over the Sun
$16.00 | ISBN: 978-0-692-30231-6 | 56 Pages

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Text of Tarkovsky translation of "June 25, 1939" with Russian

June 25, 1939
Arseny Tarkovsky
Tr. L. Shmailo

It's frightening to die, and such a shame to leave
This captivating riffraff that enchants me,
The stuff so dear to poets, so very lovely,
I never celebrated; it somehow wasn't to be.
I loved to come back home at the break of dawn
And shift my things around in half an hour.
I loved the white windowsill, and also the flower,
The carved faceted glass, and also the water,
And the heavens, greenish-azure in their color—
And that I was a poet and a wicked man.
And when every June came with my birthday again
I'd idolize that holiday, bustling
With verses by friends and congratulations from women,
With crystal laughter, and gay glasses clinking
And the lock of that hair, unique, individual
And that kiss, so entirely inevitable.
But now at home it’s all set up differently;
It's June and I no longer have that homesickness.
In this way, life is teaching me patience,
And turbid, my blood now is stirring this birthday,
And a secret anxiety is tormenting me—
What have I done with my great destiny,
Oh my God, what have I done with me!

25 июня 1939 года
Арсений Тарковский
И страшно умереть, и жаль оставить
Всю шушеру пленительную эту,
Всю чепуху, столь милую поэту,
Которую не удалось прославить
Я так любил домой прийти к рассвету,
И в полчаса все вещи переставить,
Еще любил я белый подоконник,
Цветок и воду, и стакан граненый,
И небосвод голубизны зеленой,
И то, что я — поэт и беззаконник.
А если был июнь и день рожденья
Боготворил я праздник суетливый,
Стихи друзей и женщин поздравленья,
Хрустальный смех и звон стекла счастливый,
И завиток волос неповторимый,
И этот поцелуй неотвратимый
. Расставлено все в доме по-другому,
Июнь пришел, я не томлюсь по дому,
В котором жизнь меня терпенью учит
И кровь моя мутится в день рожденья,
И тайная меня тревога мучит,—
Что сделал я с высокою судьбою,
О боже мой, что сделал я с собою!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

New translation of Arseny Tarkovsky and poems by Alexander Skidan up at TRUCK

I have a spanking brand new translation of "June 25, 1939" by Arseny Tarkovsky and several poems by Alexander Skidan translated by me and the author up at Halvard Johnson's TRUCK today. Thanks to "driver," poet and translator Anny Ballardini, for including me!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


Blazevox is PUBLISHING MY NOVEL, PATIENT WOMEN!!! Stunned with happiness for an hour and now dancing around the house! THANK YOU to the brilliant Geoffrey Gatza for publishing my first collection of poetry, In Paran, and now this novel, which takes place in the Woodstock and punk rock and early AIDS eras, culminating in the heyday of the 12 Step programs in the 90s (meet my protagonist Nora, and her sponsor, the transgender Chrisis St. Lawrence). God, it's been a pretty good day, week, month, life!

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Patient Women a Subito Press Contest Semifinalist

Thanks to Subito Press of the University of Colorado Boulder for naming my novel, Patient Women, as a semifinalist in their prose contest. (Hint: this does mean that Patient Women still needs a publisher, friends; ideas?)

Friday, November 07, 2014

Cover of my translation of Victory over the Sun by Aleksei Kruchenykh from ‪Červená Barva Press

Advanced in the Guggenheim Fellowship Competition!

The Guggenheim Fellowship Competition has requested work samples from me. I am sending my books ‪#‎special‬ characters (Unlikely Books), In Paran (Blazevox), and A Cure for Suicide (Červená Barva Press). I am honored and would like to thank my publishers

My translation of A. Kruchenykh's Victory over the Sun now available from Červená Barva Press

I am thrilled to announce the publication of my translation of Aleksei Kruchenykh's libretto of the first Russian Futurist opera, Victory over the Sun (1913). Published by Gloria Mindock's Červená Barva Press, this edition has a brilliant introduction by Eugene Ostashevsky. This publication would not have been possible without the help of Alexander Cigale. who, with scholars Gerald Janacek and Richard Kostelanetz, have provided wonderful blurbs for the book. Cover art is from Kazimir Malevich's set designs for the original production. Thanks to everyone who has made this publication possible, and to the Garage Museum of Moscow for using this translation for their reconstruction of the opera!

About Me

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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):