The Daily Art Source

Book Review

 A Review of Medusa’s Country by Larissa Shmailo

Larissa Shmailo’s new book is her third volume of poetry. In this new book she writes from many points of view and experiences. Now when you usually read a sentence like this you usually don’t expect to read a book most singular like you will like this one. A quote by Erik Satie that is translated by John Cage is as follows, “It is not good manners to discuss the point of the question.” The point to this book is, you could say, in the poem, “Memento Mama”, “We will all speak these words in this way and then, and till then, what shall I say?”

In the poem, “Cardiac (Ghazal)”, a poem written in couplets, Ms. Shmailo writes, “Clinicians think I’m
Job; they jab and prod my veins. / Pathology requires a test of anguished cries.” If you have read her
novel, “Patient Women” and you truly should, her character Nora undergoes similar treatment in the
hospital. But at the bottom of the poem we read, “Larissa’s rose is sick and is consuming me.” You can’t
help but think of William Blake’s, The Sick Rose, “Has found out the bed/ Of crimson joy; /And his dark
secret love/ Does thy life destroy.” Nora, after all, in Patient Women is a character.

Confessional poetry always rings true in an epitaph of the soul. The poem, “Madison Square Park, 5:29
A.M.” rings true of this sentiment. Ms. Shmailo writes, “What some men will hit on, eagerly, still
astonishes me; / You are never too sick, too dirty, or too old, apparently.” The poem tells the story of the
character waking up in a bad way and others passing and being disgusted but still interested in their own
lascivious way. It rings true I imagine for most women.

This book was challenging, and thought provoking. Ms. Shmailo wrote it in such a way that it will carry
you on till she writes another one. Let’s hope it won’t be too much longer till that book graces us with its
presence.

Chris Mansel
The Daily Art Source