Larissa's Blog

Readings in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Lafayette in November

“UNLIKELY SAINTS”Literary events in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and LafayetteSupporting the Festival of Words, Lyrically Inclined, and Unlikely Books
                                                CONTACT:    Jonathan Penton                                                                        (337) 207-8713                                                              
 In the first week of November, 2015, south Louisiana publisher Unlikely Books will join with Lafayette’s premiere open-mic-and-slam series, Lyrically Inclined, and the Festival of Words in Grand Coteau in a celebration of the literature produced by and available to south Louisiana readers. Six writers from south Louisiana will join Larissa Shmailo of New York City, Michael Harold of Shreveport, and Wendy Taylor Carlisle of Eureka Springs, AR in a series of three literary events featuring diverse backgrounds, styles, and literary themes.The events are called the “Unlikely Saints” tour, mimicking a similar tour in November 2011. Flyers and publicity photo attached.
Tuesday, November 3, 7pm-9pmElevator Projects451 Florida St., Suite 102, Baton Rouge(in the downtown Chase building)No cover, wine providedReaders include Xander Bilyk (New Orleans), Wendy Taylor Carlisle (Eureka Springs, AR), Michael Harold (Shreveport), Alex “PoeticSoul” Johnson (Lafayette), Dylan Krieger (Baton Rouge), and Larissa Shmailo (NYC)
Thursday, November 5, 6pm sharp-8pm sharp:Crescent City Books230 Chartres St., New OrleansNo cover, wine providedReaders include Wendy Taylor Carlisle (Eureka Springs, AR), Michael Harold (Shreveport), Carolyn Hembree (New Orleans), Alex “PoeticSoul” Johnson (Lafayette), Christopher Shipman (New Orleans), and Larissa Shmailo (NYC)
Friday, November 6, 7:30 pm-9:30pmThe Ballet Académie200 Polk St., LafayetteNo cover, wine providedReaders include Wendy Taylor Carlisle (Eureka Springs, AR), Michael Harold (Shreveport), Alex “PoeticSoul” Johnson (Lafayette), Dylan Krieger (Baton Rouge), Larissa Shmailo (NYC), and John Warner Smith (Baton Rouge)

I am reading at Sidewalk for One Hundred Thousand Poets for Change Saturday, 9/26

The fifth annual One Hundred Thousand Poets for Change, New York City edition, will be held at the Sidewalk Cafe on Saturday, Sept. 26th. This event was curated by Valery Oisteanu, and will be MC'd by Ron Kolm,

Readers include Claudia Serea, Tom Walker, Allan Graubard, Kat Georges, Peter Carlaftes, Ronnie Norpel, Bill Wolak, Larissa Shmailo, David St-Lascaux, Yuko Otomo, Steve Dalachinsky, Shelley Miller, Carl Watson, Wanda Phipps, Jeff Wright, Ilka Scobie and Kelvin Daly.

All thanks to Michael Rothenberg for creating this wonderful world-wide event for peace!

Sidewalk Cafe
94 Avenue A, New York, NY 10009
6:00 pm
(212) 473-7373

Books for Readers review of Patient Women (full text)

Probably the biggest surprise of my summer reading was Patient Women by Larissa Shmailo. Shmailo is a highly accomplished poet, editor, and translator (see my review of her poetry in Issue # 169) . She does a lot of so-called "mixed" media, and she blogs at She is productive and successful, and lives a rich life in the arts.
She is also a survivor and child of survivors, and in her new novel Patient Women, she fictionalizes pieces of her life and recreates passages from her parents' lives as well as creating searing poems ostensibly written by her character Nora Nader.There is plenty of recreational sex and drugs and drinking and also sex work, and brilliant recreations of the downtown milieu of New York City in the nineteen seventies. Much, much sensation and despair and struggle. There are whorehouse discussions during down time about what you want in an ideal client, and there are stunning shocks: at one point, Nora finally finds a man who has potential as a long term partner. They marry-- and he drowns on their honeymoon. Nora's life is out of control, but the novel is completely in the novelist's control. In her great confidence in her own powers, Shmailo moves towards the end out of the straight narrative into a series of experiments in story telling and genre. The bulk of the book is the grim narrative of Nora's dive into the lower depths and her grumbling return to sobriety through the efforts of a saintly trans friend who is dying of AIDS. Then, Nora begins to press her mother to repeat and explain family stories of their time in concentration camps under the Nazis: how they survived intact. She includes her mother's stories as free-standing short works, and it becomes increasingly clear that the family was not intact at all. The stories throw Nora into a near psychotic state of remembering that seems like too much for one person to bear. She says goodbye to Chrisis, her dying sobriety sponsor. She gives support to a dying stranger, money to a beggar. She notices that the world is still around her. And then come the poems, which act both as a reprise of the themes and events of the novel and also also as unnarrated evidence of Nora's talent and hopeful future. It is a gamble, to end a novel with so many passages in a different genre, but it pays off beautifully: Nora doesn't forget, perhaps doesn't even move on completely, but she can be with people. She can create.

Great review of Patient Women by Meg Tuite!

Dive into the deep end: read this novel! Unforgettable and mesmerizing!
By M. Tuite on August 27, 2015
There are many categories of writing, but as readers there are two distinct places we tend to go: either `escape from reality' mode or `dive into the deep end' through writing that unnerves us on a personal level. The poems/stories or novels may be situated in different continents, cultures, even species, and yet they confront us with fragments of ourselves that defy diversity.
Shmailo's work takes me to places in my life that I am both afraid and compelled by. There is no escape here. It is about recognition and a fortitude that didn't exist before. It is about finding oneself again, in amazement and thankfulness, through another writer's words.
Here are some quotes from Shmailo's novel, Patient Women.
"There was anger in the house, anger in the very walls."
"Home life acquired a dangerous sameness."
"Nora had learned to detect the subtlest shifts in the affective atmosphere of her home: she became expert in detecting and defusing the charges, like a teenage bomb squad."
"Nora kept rattling him like a jammed door she was sure she had the right to enter."
"God writes straight with crooked lines, Nora..."
Shmailo takes the reader into the world of a strong, sensitive, acute protagonist, Nora, who moves through many lives in this novel. She is a sex worker, a brilliant woman, an incest survivor, a woman who takes us into the streets and wrestles with her/our inner/outer demons. "Patient Women" is a novel everyone should read. There is no shrinking back from the violence Nora experiences and witnesses and the power of Shmailo's brilliant writing that takes us inside all of it.
Don't miss out on this! Get a copy and find yourself mesmerized and changed by "Patient Women". WOW!!! Unforgettable!

Russian Launch Party for Larissa Shmailo’s Patient Women (press release)

For immediate releasePress contacts:Larissa Shmailo212-712-9865Larissa@larissashmailo.comRegina
Russian Launch Party for Larissa Shmailo’s Patient Women Uncle Vanya’s315 West 54th Street New York, NY 212-757-0168Tuesday, September 8, 20157:00 to 10 pmFREE; open to the publicNew York City. A real Russian launch party will celebrate the publication of poet Larissa Shmailo’s debut novel, Patient Women, on September 8. Sponsored by the Russian American Culture Center, the event features the talents of a glittering host of prominent Eastern European and New York City literary figures, including Alex Cigale, Steve Dalachinsky, Bonny Finberg, Andrey Gritsman, Patricia Spears Jones, Ron Kolm, Irina Mashinski, Yuko Otomo, Audrey Roth, and Thad Rutkowski.About Patient Women Patient Women has been called “a brutally honest wrestling match of truth-telling and sex”and “the best book . . . about this period of life in NYC since Patti Smith's Just Kids.” Thaddeus Rutkowski, author of Haywire, writes: Larissa Shmailo’s Patient Women tells the story of Nora, a gifted young woman who comes of age in New York against heavy odds. Her Russian mother is demanding; the young men around her are uncaring; and her dependence on drink and sex leads her to a shadowy life filled with self-made demons. Yet Nora’s intelligence pulls her through the difficult times—there are even moments of (very) dark humor here. Anne Elliott, author of The Beginning of the End of the Beginning, adds:Christ-figures are likely to be cross-dressers in this engaging bildungsroman, which takes us on a wild ride through NYC nightclubs of the 1970's, rock-bottom blackouts, a whorehouse, and the slogan-filled rooms of recovery. Surreal and lyrical, then bawdy and riotous, then plainspoken and tragic, Patient Women had me rooting hard for its lovable, drowning heroine to keep her head above water and let in grace.The Russian American Cultural CenterThe Russian American Cultural Center (RACC) sponsors readings, art exhibitions, film screenings, and other events of interest throughout New York; for more information about RACC, see their website at The launch party for Patient Women is free and open to the public. Books will be available for purchase and signing by the author at the event. Patient Women is also available on Amazon at

Save the date! The NYC Patient Women launch party 9/8

Friends, save the date! The NYC launch party will happen Tuesday, Sept. 8 at 7:00 pm at Uncle Vanya's, 315 W 54. Readings by Alexander Cigale, Steve Dalachinsky, Bonny Finberg, Patricia Spears Jones, Ron Kolm, Irina Mashinski, Yuko Otomo, Audrey Roth, Thaddeus Rutkowski, yours truly, and other special guests. More details as I get them.This event is sponsored by the Russian American Cultural Center, so it will be a blast. I absolutely hope to see every single one of you there!
Patient Women

Moderating a Panel on "Metrical Illiteracy" at AWP16 in LA

I was delighted to learn that my proposal, "Endangered Music: Formal Poetry in the 21st Century," has been accepted to AWP 16's program in LA.  The all-star panel includes Annie Finch, Timothy Steele, Amanda Johnston, and Dean Kostos.  Our topic follows.

What are the consequences of what Brad Leithauser has termed the "metrical illiteracy" of contemporary poetry in the U.S.? Poetry readership here has diminished, in contrast to the vitality of poetry in countries where formal poetry is strong. Offering controversial views from a now minority aesthetic, panelists will discuss why basic knowledge of metrical analysis and prosody has waned and why accentual forms such as spoken word are popular.  We will demonstrate the essential role of music in poetry today and as a tool vital to understanding poetry of the past.

If you are in LA next AWP, I invite you to join us.