Monday, November 28, 2016

Fear of the Humanities (from the HOWL Collective blog)

FEAR OF THE HUMANITIES, from the HOWL (Humanities Opposition World League) Collective
Larissa Shmailo
This November, Americans experienced an unnatural transition from a democracy to a country led by a fascist president. Swastikas, church burnings, hate writings on walls marked with “Trump,” are sanctioned by our new president-elect; indeed, the alt-right (a sanitized term for white supremacists) is lodged next to the Oval Office. We are ripe to be pussy grabbed, placed in conversion therapy, registered, and deported. Oh, and torture is in. (If you do not know anything about fascism, don’t worry: you are about to learn.)

So, many of us in the humanities, artists, poets, writers, historians, social scientists, scholars, linguists, critics, journalists, oppose this. I know: even now, Steve Bannon is slugging down an extra shot to stop his trembling, and is telling Trump, “Mr. President, we’ve got a problem.”

Artists!!! Scholars!!! Sociologists!!! Be afraid, Donald Trump, be very afraid!

Well, yes, actually, he has cause to be. Fascists are afraid of vibrant, truth-telling humanities, which is why they arrest their makers so often. One of Trump’s earliest encounters with defiance was from the cast of Hamilton, who used their stage to confront our homophobic VP-elect. Apologize, the Donster demanded. No, the cast answered. There was more here than a distraction from Trump’s business conflicts of interest (which are actually bribery, explicitly cited in the Constitution as impeachable). 
The president-elect wanted the cast of Hamilton to obey, and the arts and humanities rarely do.

What do we in the humanities do that threatens demagogues, authoritarians, Hitler-wannabes? (“I alone can fix it” was a direct quote from Fuhrer by the Donald.) We record, parody, inspire, inform, debate, debunk, analyze, summarize, translate, abstract, respond, journal, categorize, report, opine, educate, satirize, uplift, mobilize, underscore, energize, review. We bring forth new ideas and data, show people how, when, and where to resist, and keep up the spirits of people oppressed by their selfish and erratic leaders.  

And we continue to do so in the face of the angry tweets and the red face of the Orangeman. And we are legion. So indeed, it is rational, to paraphrase National Security Adviser Gen. Michael Flynn, to be afraid of the humanities and their practitioners. So, yes, Trumpetters, do be afraid. Very afraid.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Front and Back Cover of Medusa's Country with Blurbs

Here is the full cover, front and back, of my newest poetry collection, Medusa's Country, with blurbs from the brilliant Annie Finch, Dean Kostos, and Lee Ann Brown. The title launches next year at AWP Washington (yep, Washington). Thanks to MadHat Press and its genius publisher and cover artist for Medusa, Marc Vincenz!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

My Poem after Federico Garcia Lorca Accepted

Delighted that my poem, "To the Thanatos Within Me," has been accepted for the second edition of Open Country Press's anthology, Verde Que Te Quiero Verde: Poems after Federico Garcia Lorca.

Friday, November 04, 2016

Text of Translations with Original Russian of Pushkin, Mayakovsky, Gumiliev, and Tarkovsky in South Florida Poetry Journal

Larissa Shmailo  4 Russian translations
Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin

I loved you once, and this love still, it may be,
Is not extinguished fully in my soul;
But let’s no longer have this love dismay you:
To trouble you is not my wish at all.
I loved you once quite wordlessly, without hope,
Tortured shyness, jealous rage I bore.
I loved you once so gently and sincerely:
God grant another love you thus once more

Я вас любил: любовь еще, быть может,
В душе моей угасла не совсем;
Но пусть она вас больше не тревожит;
Я не хочу печалить вас ничем.
Я вас любил безмолвно, безнадежно,
То робостью, то ревностью томим;
Я вас любил так искренно, так нежно,
Как дай вам бог любимой быть другим.
June 25, 1939
Arseny Tarkovsky

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!

Vladimir Mayakovsky’s Last Poem

Vladimir Mayakovsky's (July 19,1893 – April 14, 1930) final poem before his suicide. The Oka mentioned is a tributary of the Volga.

It's after one. You've likely gone to sleep.
The Milkway streams silver, an Oka through the night.
I don't hurry, I don't need to wake you
Or bother you with lightning telegrams.
Like they say, the incident is cloved.
Love's little boat has crashed on daily life.
We're even, you and I. No need to account
For mutual sorrows, mutual pains and wrongs.
Look: How quiet the world is.
Night cloaks the sky with the tribute of the stars.
At times like these, you can rise, stand, and speak
To history, eternity, and all creation.

Уже второй. Должно быть, ты легла.
В ночи Млечпуть серебряной Окою.
Я не спешу, и молниями телеграмм
мне незачем тебя будить и беспокоить.
Как говорят, инцидент исперчен.
Любовная лодка разбилась о быт.
С тобой мы в расчете. И не к чему перечень
взаимных болей, бед и обид.
Ты посмотри, какая в мире тишь.
Ночь обложила небо звездной данью.
В такие вот часы встаешь и говоришь
векам, истории и мирозданью

Acrostic poem on the name of Nikolai Gumilev’s wife, Anna Akhmatova. Translation received honorable mention in the Compass Award competition on Gumilyev, 2011.


Addis Ababa, city of roses.
Near the bank of transparent streams,
No earthly devas brought you here,
A diamond, amidst gloomy gorges.

Armidin garden … There a pilgrim
Keeps his oath of obscure love

(Mind, we all bow before him),
And the roses cloy, the roses red.

There, full of deceit and venom,

Ogles some gaze into the soul,
Via forests of tall sycamores,
And alleyways of dusky planes.

Аддис-Абеба, город роз.        
На берегу ручьёв прозрачных,
Небесный див тебя принес,
Алмазной, средь ущелий мрачных.

Армидин сад… Там пилигрим
Хранит обет любви неясной
ы все склоняемся пред ним),
А розы душны, розы красны.

Там смотрит в душу чей-то взор,
Отравы полный и обманов,
В садах высоких сикомор,
Аллеях сумрачных платанов.

LARISSA SHMAILO’S work appears in Measure for Measure (Everyman's Library / Penguin Random House), Words for the Wedding (Perigee / Penguin Putnam), and Contemporary Russian Poetry (Dalkey Archive Press). Her poetry collections are #Medusa’s Country (forthcoming from MadHat Press), #specialcharacters (Unlikely Books), In Paran (BlazeVOX [books]), and the chapbooks A Cure for Suicide (Červená Barva Press) and Fib Sequence (Argotist Ebooks). Her poetry CDs are The No-Net World and Exorcism (SongCrew); tracks are available from Spotify, iTunes, Muze, and Amazon. Larissa edited the anthology Twenty-first Century Russian Poetry (Big Bridge Press) and translated Victory over the Sun for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art's celebrated reconstruction of the first Futurist opera; the libretto has been used for productions at Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Smithsonian, and the Garage Museum of Moscow. Shmailo has also been a translator on the Russian Bible for the American Bible Society. Her novel, Patient Women, is now available from Amazon,, and BlazeVOX [books]. Visit her website at 

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

WOMEN INSPIRE, a poetry collage video by Meg Tuite

I'm pleased to be included in Women Inspire, videos of women poets curated by the peerless Meg Tuite for Connotation Press. Enjoy! WOMEN INSPIRE!

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