The Farrar, Straus and Giroux Poetry Blog

April 23, 2008

Hey Professor! Get That Bicycle Off Your Nose!

Mayakovsky_4 Should you, for some reason, still be laboring under the illusion that famed Russian poet and radical Vladimir Vladimirovich Mayakovsky was in any way a traditional person, allow me to present what are (in my opinion) the most unusual/interesting facts from his Wikipedia page:

  • Mayakovsky was imprisoned on three occasions for subversive political activities, but being underage, he avoided transportation.
  • In the summer of 1915, Mayakovsky fell in love with a married woman, Lilya Brik, and it is to her that the poem "The Backbone Flute" (1916) was dedicated; unfortunately for Mayakovsky, she was the wife of his publisher, Osip Brik.
  • He started reciting poems such as "Left March! For the Red Marines: 1918" at naval theatres, with sailors as an audience.
  • Following Stalin's death, rumors arose that Mayakovsky did not commit suicide but was in fact murdered at the behest of Stalin, however, there is no evidence that he was murdered.

Good lord. We are going to have a fabulous time with this guy for the next day and a half. As a way of dipping a toe in, so to speak, here is an audio recording from a March 24th event at the Bowery Poetry Club featuring so many fabulous readers that it would be too much to expect me to list them all. 

It's a bit long, and the sound quality is not the best ever, so if you don't have time immediately to listen to all of it, can I just point you to the first poem, read and interpreted by Ron Padgett? It's where the title line for this post came from, and wow: I assure you it is unlike anything else you will hear today.


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