Larissa's Blog

2016 and beyond . . .

What a year 2016 has been! By compare, lively 2015 seems so happy and innocent. Yet there was good that the trumpery could not touch.
Before Trump became a viable, liable candidate, there was AWP LA, where I had the privilege of moderating "Endangered Music: Formal Poetry in the Twenty-first Century." The distinguished panelists included Annie Finch, Timothy Steele, and Amanda Johnston. The discussions continued for a month!
I celebrated the first anniversary of my corporation, Larissa Shmailo, Inc,. which does business as Professor's Helper (TM) (please see our services for the academic community at We are honored to serve academe, one professor at a time.
This summer, I was delighted that MadHat Press accepted my third full-length poetry collection, Medusa's Country, with a brilliant cover design by MadHat publisher, Marc Vincenz. Medusa's Country will be launched at AWP 2017 in Washington.
And then, election night, 11/9. We founded HOWL (Humanities Opposition World League), an international anti-fascist collective of artists and scholars. Read our manifesto, and consider joining us!
Last, but certainly not least, this week the New York Public Library ordered copies of my novel, Patient Women, a dream come true. The novel is also available in the Sarasota Library system, thanks to friend Gabrielle Lennon. And thanks to all my friends who are ordering Patient Women from their libraries!
Friends, we will survive, nay, thrive in 2017. Stay close, stay true, and we can help one another through whatever this new year will bring.

NYPL ordering Patient Women!

Joy! The New York Public Library is ordering copies of my novel, Patient Women! I feel like the heroine of a novel!

Two Dates Americans Will Never Forget: 9/11 and 11/9 - The Poetry of Dean Kostos and Michael T. Young

New at HOWL (Humanities Opposition World League): Michael T. Young's eloquent response to the Trumped elections, and Dean Kostos's obsession with the number 11, the shape of the Twin Towers.  Also, a Katrina ballad from McQ and the Dude, "Hands Across the World."

New at Writing in a Woman's Voice: Memento Mama

Memento Mama

by Larissa Shmailo
I haven’t passed that dream of wisdom,
the borders you crossed through.

I can’t translate the languageI thought I thought I knew.
I see a meaning, watching you die,
hold it in my hands like a graying sigh,
this lock of hair which I comb and tie.
I kiss the head which hears my no,
and meet your eyes, and say: Don’t go.and leave you to this tongue of dread:
This is me, it cries, this is me and I die.We will all speak these words in this wayand then, and till then, what shall I say?

Work at Writing in a Woman's Voice

My poem, "Madison Square Park 5:29 AM," is up at Writing in a Woman's Voice, edited by Beate Sigriddaughter. 
Madison Square Park, 5:29 AM
Text follows.

MADISON SQUARE PARK, 5:29 Larissa ShmailoDawn: I wake in the park, face puffy and red;Liquid, brown tallboys, broken glass, at my head.The bench is cool, my shoes are gone, my fishnet stockings torn;I wish I were elsewhere, lived differently, was safe, or never born.Policemen tell me, broke and blackly bruised, to move along;I find cardboard in the garbage, make a sign, sing a song.A teenager stops, sings with me, and blushing, averts his eyes;Women pass, scorn me, prouder than they’d be otherwise.A businessman winks, gives nothing; a serviceman gives a buck.Men hang out windows; one screams obscenities from his truck.What some men will hit on, eagerly, still astonishes me;You are never too sick, too dirty, or too old, apparently.

What kind of government is this?

We ask for Trump's tax returns and don't get them; we ask him to divest his business holdings and he does not; we ask that his children not conduct the business of government as this is nepotism, and we are ignored. We ask for transparency in dealings with Russia, and we are lied to; we ask that foreign lobbyists not bribe Trump by staying at his hotels and buying his products, and Trump says bribe away; we ask at the least that he do his job and sit for intelligence briefings daily, and he tells us he doesn't need to because he's a "smart guy." What do you call government like this? (Hint: it isn't representative government). Yes, you got it - when the majority of people ask and don't get, it's called a dictatorship.

The Emoluments Clause of the Constitution

One effective path for Trump resistance is a massive hue and cry for impeachment on the emolument clause of the Constitution (bribery by foreign nations, of which Trump is guilty). It has to be a huge outcry to get the Republican congress to move, but we can do huge. And persistent. This issue, and each of its manifestations, should surround Trump like a swarm of gnats.
Trump will remain executive producer of The Apprentice as president, getting paid by MGM; we will see how he plans to dispose of the rest of his empire, if he does, in his December 15 speech. We need to keep the pressure up on his acceptance of bribes and illegal conflicts of interest.
Trump's rise is still resistable. We must resist Trump's denying the law and accruing more power to himself now.


The Humanities in Opposition World League (HOWL) is an international collective of practitioners in the humanities: artists, poets, historians, social scientists, psychologists, actors, scholars of all disciplines, linguists, critics, journalists, and others. We believe in vibrant truth-telling, inclusiveness, racial and gender equality, right to love, environmental healing, economic justice, and freedom of the press for all writers and readers. We believe that we can improve political conditions and individual lives by sharing the information and art we have culled and created. The nations of the world experienced a change of life in November 2016, but not a natural development, part of maturation as an international community. Rather, we experienced the very unnatural transition in the United States from a democracy to a country led by an unstable alt-right-wing president, threatening a path of isolationism, racism, environmental destruction, censorship, and oligarchic rule. This affects the entire globe.
What role do the humanities and its practitioners play in this? A major one. How we share information now can affect global politics, and the lives of individuals in a profound way. In the humanities and the arts, we are always cool. Decorative, interesting, informative, entertaining, moving. But as Toni Morrison says, these are the times we really earn our keep. That said, we must go to work.We seek to work now in the spirit of Frankl, Akhmatova, Anthony, Fromm, Ginsberg, Pasternak, Sartre, Levi, Brecht, Wiesel, Gramsci, DuBois, Douglass, Barthes, Genet, Baldwin, Brodsky, Chopin, Wollstonecraft, the Mills, Pavese, Pushkin, Shelley, King, Malcolm X, Angelou, Fenoglio, Stowe, Murrow, Serling, Dickinson, Pasolini, Brooks, Myers, Merini, Davis, L. Scalapino and thousands of others in the humanities, our many role models and heroes. We signatories to this manifesto vow to fight fascism at every turn, with ideas, analysis, images. And we promise not to tell one another how that must be done. We agree to share information that is inspiring, entertaining, and/or educational. We will contribute to political freedom, whether we discuss politics directly or “tell it slant.” We vow to reach across the aisle; that said, we will have no tolerance for views predicated upon the diminution of other people. And we will bring the breath of democracy, inclusion, freedom, and human decency to our discourse.
We promise to use our brains, talents, and humor to subvert Trumpism and promote the human, and we so here sign. Larissa Shmailo
Alice Sieve
Jonathan Penton
Annie Finch
Dean KostosMichael T.YoungLaura Hinton
Alexander Cigale
Chris Mansel

Fear of the Humanities (from the HOWL Collective blog)

FEAR OF THE HUMANITIES, from the HOWL (Humanities Opposition World League) CollectivebyLarissa ShmailoThis 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.