Larissa's Blog

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.

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.

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