Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Reactions to Larissa Shmailo's new poetry collection, "#specialcharacters"

This is a thrilling book of femininity and magic. When it comes to capturing the intimacy of pain, This Larissa Shmailo is among the most daring poets of her generation. When speaking of human rights, she is a human flame. She is subtle and provocative, fresh and out of bounds. You will fall in love here, and you will be loved right back.
—Philip Nikolayev

At one point in #specialcharacters, Larissa Shmailo declares: “Mother Kali, you have made me what I am: feminine, brilliant, entirely without fear” -- and the rest of the poems in this collection prove this true. They run the gamut from being outspoken to outrageous, irreverent to downright heretical, taking gleeful pride in knowing exactly how far is too far – and then going even further. I see this work as a continuum in a long tradition of radical writing practices from Futurism, to Dada, to Oulipo, to Pussy Riot. Read it when you wish to be empowered. Read it when you wish to be entertained. Read it to rid yourself of the precious and polite.
—Elaine Equi

With #specialcharacters where even the title is special Shmailo has managed to split language into its common & least common denominators/principles: sound, meaning, symbol, feeling (text/ure) as well as providing us with a range of voices from child to adult & male to female within a range of styles & mannerisms from the ultra-experimental to quirky “innocent” rhymes like her sexy riff on “the 12 days of Christmas” in her classic “The Other Woman’s Cunt.” Her knowledge of the “WORD” & how to use it extends from darkly humorous to warm, lyrical, tender & painful. She explores every facet of lives lived, be it endangered turtles, abused women or battered men. Her passion & compassion know no bounds. “Between cause & effect…choose this” BOOK, at times a “woeful bedtime tale” & “a light in the bedroom” or any room, any space anywhere in the world. It is a book of verse one should return to “again & again.” A book about “creation,” “alive as snow,” these poems “glisten like apples in the dying sun.” When Shmailo refers to “Steven’s old bones” this “unorthodox jew” can only think of the pleasure his old bones derive from reading these rejuvenating pages. This is a major work by a major poet.
—Steve Dalachinsky

Now available from Amazon and Unlikely Books.
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