Friday, October 24, 2008

Got Poetry review of CD Exorcism

Larissa Shmailo, a New York based poet, has recently released her second CD, "Exorcism" (SongCrew Records, 2008). On "Exorcism," Shmailo runs the gamut from straightforward political work ("Warsaw Ghetto") to more lyrical and evocative work ("Bhakti" and "Mapping"), with much of the work being backed by well chosen music that always enhances and never overwhelms.

Shmailo has a supple, adpatable voice; her ability to match pace and dynamics to the subject matter of these wildly different poems is a testament to her ability to make each piece come alive in the most effective fashion. From the opener, "Warsaw Ghetto," a series of personal, powerful statements of identity by people involved in the struggle for individual freedom and human dignity from several episodes in history, to the devilishly inventive pair of poems that follow it ("Dancing With The Devil," in which the speaker declares that "I love dancing with someone who can really lead"; and "How To Meet And Dance With Your Death," a matter of fact how-to recipe for finding your destiny through excess), to the more lyrical work of "Mapping" and "He follows her...," there is something for everyone here, and Shmailo reveals herself here as a poet of great scope and skill.

The recording itself only adds to this. In "Skin," a doubled vocal adds an eerie touch to the seductive text. The samples that back up "The Gospel According to Magadelene" include Thin Lizzy, the Supremes, and Led Zeppelin, which lend a modern twist to this retelling of the tale of Mary Magdelene from her point of view.

Standout tracks include a cover of Anna Ahkmatova ("Dante"), the aforementioned "Mapping," and the poems "Bhakti" and "Bloom." "Bloom," in particular, is a revelation -- a surreal and sonically shattering tumble of words and images inspired by Colette, James Joyce, and George Sand.

The album's closing track, "Exorcism (found poem)" is interesting, though a real departure from the rest of the album. A faux-Gregorian chant using the words of author M. Scott Peck on the 1968 My Lai massacre, a notorious incident from the Vietnam war, "Exorcism" uses repetition and asecending pitch to build a picture of horror that reminds one of Hannah Arendt's chilling description of the "banality of evil." The ending of the piece is truly unsettling.

Throughout this album, Larissa Shmailo consistently delivers on the promise of poetry as an oral art form. Although I can imagine that the pieces included herein would work well on page (and would love to see more than a few of these, so I could read them as well), this is a testament to how well a poetry CD can work with careful attention to the details of the production. That the poetry itself is as strong as it is is the most obvious reason that "Exorcism" is as good as it is.

Larissa Shmailo on Myspace:

Also available through ITunes, CD Baby, and Rhapsody

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Smoking Poet review of Exorcism

Friday, October 10, 2008
Exorcism by Larissa Shmailo

Poetry CD Review by Zinta Aistars

Audio CD (June 24, 2008)

Price: $12.99

"Skin is just sausage we call home."

It is lines such as this that make me a brand new Larissa Shmailo fan. And I am not usually a listen-to-poetry rather than read-poetry fan. Recordings of readings seem to be "the poetic thing" these days, and that is a trend that makes sense to me. People have less time and impetus to read a book in their busy lives, but popping a CD into your car stereo during a commute, well, that's another thing. (I still prefer a book in hand, but my daily commute is long ...)

So pop in this. Shmailo's voice immediately fills your space. Not every poet or writer can read their work to others. In fact, I think I am safe in saying ... most cannot. I have been frequenting readings all my life, and I can't say how often I have been disappointed to find that what I love on the written page bores me to tears spoken aloud. Not so with Shmailo. After listening to Exorcism several times, I can still say I am wishing for the written page, but unwilling to give up the sound. Shmailo reads with so much intensity, intonation, energy, in velvety and sensual voice, that to not hear this would be a missed experience.

Another point in Exorcism's favor: this is the first such spoken poetry CD in which I can say that music, where it is present, is seamlessly joined to spoken word. It does not distract. It does not overwhelm. It does not jar. It blends, accompanies, enriches. The mood is like that of entering a dark, smoky room, falling into pillows, and riding the silky, heady wave. Shmailo is intense. She can shock, she can tickle, she can entrance.

My favorite is "Dancing with the Devil." Because it is. A mini poem leading into "How to Meet and Dance with Your Death." You can only do it once, the poet warns you. Any more than once, and you become a cheap woman sleeping with common men. The recipe is bizarre and wonderful. You very nearly want to write it down and give it a blend. Die if you must.

Shmailo poetizes devils with the same skill as she weaves words around God and Magdalene. Her poetry is as lushly sensual as it is cutting to the bone. This is about love and pain, birth and rebirth, fields of magnolias, and surviving the Warsaw ghetto. She uses words I save for special occasion without wincing, and I forgive it, because it works. The slap of shock is appropriate. This is not merely strong performance, it is also strong in substance ... which is why I long to see the written word as well. I would suggest a written copy inserted into the CD cover as a booklet to complete the treasure.

If I list a favorite, then I will also list my least favorite: the title poem, "Exorcism." Found poem, apparently, although I don't think that is what holds this one back for me. It is a rather droning, chanting monotone (about the lie and crime of war) that can't be listened to for long without grating on a nerve or two, edging on annoying. But this is not reason enough, this one, for me not to recommend Exorcism in its totality to anyone who enjoys poetry, or just an enthralling listening experience.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Erika, who are you? The fake anthology and our 15 minutes

The blog For Godot published a hilarious experiment in computer-generated poetry. Arsonism issue one, written by the Erika program and edited by Stephen McLaughlin, went viral this week through brilliant search engine optimization and a canny insight into poet group dynamics. It is a funny, throught-provoking send up of ideas surrounding authorship and Internet publication.

From the announcement.
This issue features new poems by Nada Gordon, Evelyn Reilly, Julianna Mundim, Emmy Catedral, Enid Bagnold, Richard Siken, Stephen Ratcliffe, Michael Gottlieb, Jodie Childers, Norman J. Olson, Brent Hendricks, Sean Kilpatrick, Tom McCarthy, Stacy Doris, Michael Rerick, Corrinne Clegg Hales, Mark Decarteret, Hadewijch of Antwerp, Darren Wershler-Henry, Letitia Trent, Debra Di Blasi, Laura Elrick, Bruna Mori, Popahna Brandes, Robert Sheppard, Diana Magallan, Kristine Danielson, Ed Higgins, Drew Gardner, Kyle Kaufman, Matthew Thorburn, Tiel Aisha Ansari, Christopher Wells, Vanessa Place, Simon Pettet, Grace Vajda, John Bennett, Ian Patterson, Joseph Hutchison, John Cotter, Cheryl Lawson Walker, Scott Esposito, Jason Nelson, Daniel Kane, Kimo Armitage, Alan May, J.D. Nelson, Bob Hershon, Jennifer Karmin, Kim Rosenfield, Nathan Austin, Pearl Pirie, Rosmarie Waldrop, Tara Betts, Donald Revell, Jim Ryals, Danuta Kean, Jeff VanderMeer, Alfredo Bonanno, Irene Latham, Michael Hennesy, Dick Higgins, John Hanson, Billy Merrell, Sam Ladkin, Jeff Ward, Debra Jenks, K. Lorraine Graham, Kenji Okuhira, Sean MacInnes, Adam Seelig, Steve Halle, David Mus, Monique Wittig, Joyelle McSweeney, Daniel E. Levenson, Luke Daly, Henry Thoreau, John Palattella, Abby Trenaman, Kristen Taylor, Vassily Kamensky, David Jhave Johnston, Gene Tanta, Cate Marvin, Alison Roth, Shad Marsh, Asher Ghaffar, Henry Gould, Justin Theroux, Susan Grimm, Bernard Wilson, Ateet Tuli, Laura Moriarty, Mark McMorris, Cruickshank-Hagenbuckle, Jeffrey Cyphers Wright, William Shakespeare, Nick Trinen, Daphne Gottlieb, Magdalena Zurawski, A.K. Arkadin, Matthue Roth, Douglas J. Belcher, After Bitahatini, Neil Schmitz, Liz Henry, Tom Hansen, Craig Saper, Pris Campbell, Afua-Kafi Akua, Amish Trivedi, Chris Hutchinson, Cath Vidler, Sarah Weinman, A.E. Stallings, Robin Blaser, Roland Prevost, Mac Wellman, Steven Schroeder, Joy Garnett, Mark Lamoureux, Julie Clark, Bob Garlitz, Jeff Hamilton, Kara Dorris, Maureen Thorson, Irv Muchnick, Frank O'Hara, Robin Magowan, C. Allen Rearick, A. J. Patrick Liszkiewicz, Tony Leuzzi, Bhanu Kapil, Sage U..ilani Takehiro, Shellie Zacharia, Lorna Dee Cervantes, Camille Martin, Eliot Weinberger, David Nemeth, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Iris Smyles, Bertolt Brecht, David Forbes, Colin Herd, Sergio Bessa, Zach Wollard, Adam Ford, Claudia Keelan, Hank Sotto, Jamba Dunn, Ken Mikolowski, Jean-Jacques Poucel, Santiago B. Villafania, David Valentinovia, Robert Kaufman, Dominique Meens, Joe Elliot, August Stramm, Justin Katko! Sandra Korchenko, Carol Peters, Lilah Hegnauer, Brian Evenson, Wallace Stevens, Timothy Murphy, Joseph Bradshaw, Nick Courtright, Adam Chiles, James, Kane X. Faucher, David Abel, Ray Succre, Gabriel Gudding, Antonin Artaud, Mark Cunningham, Paul Fattaruso, William Saroyan, Aaron McCollough, Confucius/Ezra Pound, David Antin, Rob Mackenzie, Ryan Eckes, Christian Peet, Peter Riley, Litsa Spathi, Anna Ahkmatova, Mark Tursi, J.D. Schraffenberger, Greg Fuchs, Sean Casey, Orpingalik, Hassan Melehy, Rosemarie Waldrop, Phillip Lund, Adam Aitken, Michael Davidson, Andrea Rexilius, William Allegrezza, Raymond Queneau, Fred Wah, Marcia Arrieta, Elizabeth Cross, Jonathan Greene, Gregory Laynor, Preston Spurlock, Jane Sprague, Kevin Thurston, Stephen Berry, William Bronk, Claudia Rankine, Steve Dalachinsky, Ed Sanders, Sam Rasnake, Wes Smiderle, James Belflower, Simmons B. 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Daniel Rzicznek, Diana Magallon and Jeff Crouch, Kyle Schlesinger, Stuart Dybek, Marco Giovenale, Zach Savich, Tom Wegrzynowski, Arnie Hoffman, Rikki Ducornet, Dawn, Thomas Fink,, Christian Jensen, Andrew Philip, Dave Pollard, Miriam Burstein, Jessica Bozek, Patrick So, Joe Massey, Carmine Starnino, Evan Kennedy, Chris Vitiello, Nick Bruno, Amy Newman, Sharon Gilbert, Aaron Tieger, William Wordsworth, Eugenio Tisselli, julia doughty, Marko Niemi, Pierre Reverdy, Lytton Smith, Lee Gurga, Jed Shahar, Tim Hunt, Lee Upton, Mark Scroggins, Rachel Smith, Robert Wodzinski, Matthew Blake, Matina Stamatakis, Robert Waxman, Jack McGuane, Bethany Ides, Alfred Arteaga, Kat Meads, Sandra Gilbert, Carlo Parcelli, Jeff Calhoun, John Bryant, Jasper Bernes, Jeffrey Joe Nelson, Joan Houlihan, Lynn Behrendt, Jack Kerouac, Brenda Iijima, James Koller, Sun Yung Shin, Ixta Menchaca, John Barton, Piero Heliczer, Todd Colby, Awotunde Aworinde, Emma Barnes, Allison Whittenberg, Jenni Russell, Rowan Wilken, Daniela Olszewska, Layne Russell, George Oppen, Ben Yarmolinsky, Phil Cordelli, Andrew Kozma, Harry Wilkens, Jonathan Lethem, Richard Gorecki, Jilly Dybka, Kirthi Nath, Jennifer Bredl, Paolo Buzzi, Aime Cesaire & Rene Depestre, Ruben Dario, Rachel Loden, William Bryant, hassen, Kerryn Goldsworthy, Jessamyn West, Salvador Dali, Greg Djanikian, George M Wallace, Sharon Brogan, Roger Farr, Lesley Yalen, Jessica Tillyer, Cathy Eisenhower, Noah Falck, Beka Goedde, Patrick Lovelace, Erik Anderson, Shahar Gold, Olivier Cadiot, Peter O'Leary, Mel Nichols, Juan Felipe Herrera, Mirabai, Rob Mackenzie, Bethany Wright, Joseph Mosconi, MTC Cronin, Terrance Hayes, Bryson Newhart, Yoko Ono, Gherardo Bortolotti, Olli Sinivaara, Jim Crace, Brendan Lorber, Tracie Morris, Jeffrey Side, Brent Cunningham, Henry Miller, Christina McPhee, Mike Nicoloff, Ray Federman, Valerie Coulton, HL Hazuka, Ari Banias, Thomas Hummel, Nicolette Bond, J.F. 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Lawrence, Sean O Riordain, Anne Kaier, Simone dos Anjos, Brian McMahon, Josef Capek, Gloria Oden, Georges Hugnet, Sekuo Sendiata, Timothy Yu, Craig Dworkin, Mary Ann Sullivan, Guillermo Juan Parra, Paul Klinger, Catherine Wagner, Angela Veronica Wong, Terence Gower, Chris Toll, Francis Picabia, David Bromige, John Estes, Kenneth Koch, John Moore Williams, harry k. stammer, Kyle Gann, Paul Guest, Carl Rakosi, Cole Porter, Ray Craig, Bob Holman, Jordan Stempleman, Gilbert Sorrentino, Larissa Shmailo, Kris Hemensley, Jennifer Manzano, Peter Culley, Dan Silliman, Lyn Hejinian, Lloyd Schwartz, Peter Larkin, MaryLou Sanelli, Clare Latremouille, Karla Kelsey, Peter Magliocco, Bruce Stewart, Kyle Simonsen, Glenn Ingersoll, Teri Hoskin, Henry Louis Gates, John Mcmahon, Dan Raphael, Tanya Allen, Annie Finch, Mitch, Bill Kushner, Rochita Ruiz, Tom Gilroy, Yashodhara Raychaudhuri, Elaine Terranova, Tom Hibbard, Joel Nichols, Don Cheney, Ashraf Osman, Melanie Little, Barbara Cole, Chris Higgs, Paul van Ostaijen, Kate Hill Cantrill, George Kalamaras, Ren Powell, Steve Smith, Lloyd Mintern, Denise Duhamel, Veselovsky Pitts, G.L. 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Dick, Reggie Harris, Peter Ganickz, Sheila Murphy, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Greg Rappleye, Alasdair Gray, Len Shneyder, Zack Linmark, John Seed, Paul Ford, Rachel Mallino, Jan Bindas-Tenney, Tim Botta, The Pines, Ecce Mulier, Kenneth Goldsmith, Daniel Pritchard, R. Zamora Linmark, Karen Wagner, Camille Roy, Steven Gould Axelrod, Vassilis Zambaras, James Bow, Steve Roberts, Ron Padgett, Jason Labbe, Donora Hillard, Larry Kearney, Kristen Orser, Ed Ruscha, Louise Waller, Sherri Wood, Miriam Jones, Steven Moore, Robert Hershon, Patry Francis, Dave Cook, Sara Veglahn, Alfred Leslie, Henri Michaux, C.K. Williams, Doc Searls, Lars Amund Vaage, Rae Armantrout, Rodrigo Flores, Allen Bramhall, Rigoberto Gonzales and Katha Pollitt, Anatol Stern, Sina Fazelpour, Sarith Peou, Harold Jaffe, L.L. De Mars, Peggy Kelley, Sara Marcus, David Applegate, Lisa Janssen, Jim Moore, Edmond Jabes, Ruth, Wei Ying-Wu, India Radfar, Matthew Cooperman, David Dowker, Laird Hunt, Mina Loy, Erin Bertram, Will Alexander, J. F. Quackenbush, John Gallaher, Robert Ashley, Benjamin Paloff, Andrew Neuendorf, Kusano Shimpei, Dion Farquhar, Lisa, Emily Gordon, Karen Plata, Dinah Roma, Doug Lang, Claire Becker, Caryl Pagel, Walter Mosley, Stephanie Stickland, Frank Sherlock, Justin Dodd, Katina Papson, Daniel Zimmerman, Keith Waldrop, Douglas Manson, Charles Olson, Bill Peschel, Franklin Bruno, Nathan Hauke, Paul Hoover, William Moor, C. Harris Stevens, Walter Abish, Amy Lemmon, Claude Royet-Journoud, John Keene, Aaron Armstrong Skomra, Jordan Sanderson, Reg Johanson, Peter Yovu, Daniel Pendergrass, John Beer, Justin Lacour, Jennifer Moxley, Nathan Lang, Hazel Smith, Iamnasra Oman, pr primeau, Sheryl Luna, Jonathan Ball, Terry Southern, Christian Peet, Pierre Joris, Oana Avasilichioaei, Arunta, Deanna Ferguson, Tom Phillips, Susan Schultz, Jason Camlot, David Kirschenbaum, Gail Mazur, Jack Hughes, Zack Finch, J.H.Prynne, Rebecca Loudon, Scott Inguito, Esmail Yazdanpour, Naftali Bacharach, Jennifer Osborne, Sylvia Plath, Richard Lopez, Sandy Baldwin, Kirsten Lavers, Andrew Christ, Ann Lauterbach, Shelly Taylor, Nicole Peyrafitte, Jessica Savitz, Sam Golden Rule Jones, K. Silem Mohammad, Lionel Kearns, Lili Bita, Aime Cesaire, R W Sturgess, James Moran, Mike Topp, Dan Featherston, Chris Daniels, Gregory Botts, Nicole Oquendo, Thomas Devaney, Randall, Keith Shein, William Harris, Rik Roots, Patricia Carragon and Andy Comess, Alejandro Tarrab, Matthew Shindell, Eric Gamalinda, Amy Bernier, Spencer Selby, Simone Muench, Piombino, Michelle Buchanan, David Lehman, Jonathan Skinner, Sandra Beasley, Patricia Spears Jones, Hal Saulson, Laura Riding, Taylor Mali, Nam June Paik, W.B. Yeats, Peter Reading, Graham Foust, Brenda Coultas, Emily Lloyd, Ed Skoog, D.G. Jones, Vicente Huidobro, Jared Schickling, Peter Sacks, Kate Pringle, Rita Wong, Laila Lalami, Nancy Friedman, Franz Kafka, Robert Hellam, Brian Campbell, Danny Fields, Mario Cafiero, Peter Ciccariello, Cat Tyc, Nate Pritts, Andrea Brady, Andy Frazee, Felino Soriano, Clair Becker, Soumana Dasgupta, Jill Riga, David Raphael Israel, Stacey Levine, Mike Magee, Tim Yu, Cesar Vallejo, Isidore Ducasse, Amanda Earl, Romina Freschi, Alan Halsey, Daniel f. Bradley, Charles Rossiter, Noelle Kocot, Jayne Pupek, Aldous Huxley, Deborah Fries, Alani Apio, Jessica Smith, Christopher Barnes, Rick Snyder, Sarah Lang, Emily Dickinson, Cecilia Ann, bpNichol, Susanna Fry, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Charles Borkhuis, Herman Beavers, Stephanie Skura, Jessica Bennett, Steve Carey, Madeline Gins, Thom Donovan, Chuck Perrin, Luci Tapahonso, Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge, Ira Cohen, Marko J. Niemi, Ray Davis, Nancy Gandhi, Dee Rimbaud, Mary O'Malley, Evie Ivie, Pamela Mack, Lawrence Lessig, Allyssa Wolf, and Snezana Zabic.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Poetry without preconditions: Rahi translation

Below is a translation by Mohammad Mostaghim (Rahi) of my poem "Vow" into Farsi. As poets, we can communicate "without preconditions," whatever Sarah Palin might say.


We will love like dogwood
Kiss like cranes
Die like moths
I promise

©2007, Larissa Shmailo

لاريسا شمايلو 2007

پيمان بهار

ما عشق خواهيم ورزيد

مثل زغال اخته

بوسه خواهيم زد

مثل درناها

خواهيم مرد

مثل پروانگان

من نويد مي‌دهم

گزاشتار: محمّد مستقيمي(راهي)

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