Larissa Shmailo

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Larissa Shmailo (born 1956 in Brooklyn, NY) is an American poet, translator, novelist, editor, and critic.[1][2]


Shmailo is the daughter of Sinaida and Nikolai Shmailo, who emigrated to the United States in 1950 from the Ukraine via the displaced persons camps of World War II after internment in the Mitelbau Dora (Dora Northausen) concentration camp. Shmailo has recorded her parents' experience in her poem, "How My Family Survived the Camps" and in fictionalized form in her novel, Patient Women.[3]

Shmailo was educated at New York City's Hunter High School, The American School in Switzerland, and Barnard College, although episodes of mental illness and substance abuse interrupted her studies. She was married in 1985 to Steven Charles Werner, who drowned on the couple's honeymoon, as recounted in Shmailo's poem "Death at Sea." Her second and third marriages to Hans Goldfuss in 1988 and Eric Yost in 2000 ended in divorce.

As a poet, Shmailo is known as an experimentalist and a neoformalist, as well as a spoken word artist.[4] She translated Victory over the Sun at the age of twenty-two, but began her literary career in earnest in 1993 in New York City's open mike poetry scene as curator of the reading series Sliding Scale Poetry. She went on from there to win recognition as a poet, translator, and critic in Russia, India, and across the United States.[5]


Victory over the Sun

Shmailo was the original translator of Victory over the Sun by Aleksei Kruchenych for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art's celebrated reconstruction of the first Futurist opera and performance piece in 1980.[6] This translation has been used for productions at the Museum of Natural History in New York, the Smithsonian, and the Brooklyn Academy of Music.[7] Most recently, it was featured at the Cornelia Café with poet-actor Bob Holman in the role of The Time Traveler and was part of the Garage Museum of Moscow’s 2014 retrospective of Russian performative art.[8] The “opera” received a high-tech full restaging with digital sets and synthesized music at Boston University on April 23, 2015.[9]

Twenty-first Century Russian Poetry

Shmailo edited the free online anthology of ultra-contemporary Russian poetry, Twenty-first Century Russian Poetry. The anthology, which appeared in the online poetry omnibus Big Bridge in 2013, has been disseminated internationally via social media and e-mail.[10]

HOWL (Humanities Opposition World League)

Shmailo is the co-founder, with Alice Sieve, of HOWL, an international anti-fascist collective of artists and scholars. Shmailo wrote the manifesto for the group and serves as editor for HOWL publications. The collective was founded on Election Day, 2016.[11]

The Feminist Poets in Low-Cut Blouses

Shmailo founded the irreverent poetry organization of “men, women, and others” in 1993. The group performs regularly at The New York City Poetry Festival and at venues throughout New York City.[12]


Shmailo has read at hundreds of venues nationally, including the Knitting Factory, Association of Writers and Writing Programs conferences, the Bowery Poetry Club, The Langston Hughes Residence, Barnard College, New York University, Lesley University, and other colleges and universities.

Translation of Her Poems

Mohammad Mostaghimi, an Iranian poet who lives in Isfahan, has translated some of her poems into Persian. Most of them are published on his weblog 'dishe sepid'.

Professor's Helper (TM)

Shmailo is incorporated as Larissa Shmailo, Inc., doing business as Professor's Helper (TM).[13]

Selected publications[edit]

Patient Women, a Novel

Shmailo's debut novel, 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," was published by BlazeVOX Books in July 2015. The work is a semiautobiographical bildungsroman about sex and substance addiction in the Woodstock and punk rock eras and the early days of AIDS, and features a transgender leading character. Chapters deal with prostitution, incest, and the Holocaust [14][15] [16][17]

Poetry Books and CDs

Shmailo's poetry collections are Medusa's Country (MadHat Press 2017),[18] #specialcharacters (Unlikely Books 2014),[19] In Paran (BlazeVOX [books] 2009) [20] and the chapbooks A Cure for Suicide (Červená Barva Press 2006) [21] and Fib Sequence (Argotist Ebooks 2011) [22] Her poetry CDs are The No-Net World (2006) and Exorcism (2009) (SongCrew); tracks are available in digital distribution [23]

Selected Anthologies

Measure for Measure: An Anthology of Meter (Everyman’s Library/Penguin Random House; Words for the Wedding (Perigee Books /Penguin Putnam); Contemporary Russian Poetry (Dalkey Archive Press); Resist Much / Obey Little (Spuyten Duyvil); Women Write Resistance: Poets Resist Gender Violence (Wiseman); The Unbearables Big Book of Sex (Autonomedia); From Somewhere to Nowhere: The End of the American Dream (The Unbearables); Verde que te quiero verde: Poems after Federico Garcia Lorca (Pederson); About: Poetry/ Spring Poems 2007 Anthology ; Occupy Wall Street.

Selected Journals

Plume, Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, The Common, St. Petersburg Review, Gargoyle, Barrow Street, Drunken Boat, FULCRUM, Rattapallax, Journal of Poetics Research, Eoagh, Eco-Poetry, Eleven Eleven, Atlanta Review, Lungfull!, MiPoesias, The Journal of Interdimensional Poetry

Critical Writing

Shmailo has written on Daniil Kharms, Bob Holman, Annie Finch, Elaine Equi, Philip Nikolayev, and other poets and writers for the Journal of Poetics Research, The Battersea Review, The Brooklyn Rail, Jacket and Jacket2.



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