Night Wraps the Sky: Writings by and about Mayakovsky

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9780374281359: Night Wraps the Sky: Writings by and about Mayakovsky
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From the time his first, futurist poems were published in 1912 until his suicide at the age of thirty-six, Vladimir Mayakovsky made theatrical appearances in his written work and perfected an iconoclastic voice James Schuyler called "the intimate yell." As the poet laureate of the Russian Revolution, Mayakovsky led a generation that staked everything on the notion that an artist could fuse a public and a private self. But by the time of Stalin's terror, the contradictions of the revolution caught up with him, and he ended in despair.

A major influence on American poets of the twentieth century, Mayakovsky's work remains fascinating and urgent. Very few English translations have come close to capturing his lyric intensity, and a comprehensive volume of his writings has not been published in the past thirty years. In Night Wraps the Sky, the acclaimed filmmaker Michael Almereyda (Hamlet, William Eggleston in the Real World) presents Mayakovsky's key poems―translated by a new generation of Russian-American poets―alongside memoirs, artistic appreciations, and eyewitness accounts, written and pictorial, to create a full-length portrait of the man and the mythic era he came to embody.

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Michael Almereyda's films include Nadja, Hamlet, William Eggleston in the Real World, and New Orleans Mon Amour. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Artforum, The Believer, and Film Comment.

From Publishers Weekly:

The volatile young poet rose to prominence as a coauthor of the Russian Futurist manifesto A Slap in the Face of Public Taste in 1912; the next five years saw the explosive sexual boasting and the fragmentary lines of such poems as A Cloud in Pants, experimental plays and even participation in important Russian modernist filmmaking. An enemy of tradition in all its forms, the moody, energetic Vladimir Mayakovsky supported the Soviet revolution wholeheartedly, writing a poem called 150,000,000 in support of the Soviet army. Yet the passionate poet became worn down by the grind of his personal life and by Stalin's assault on something dear to him—modern art. Mayakovsky shot himself in 1930, and his subsequent canonization by the U.S.S.R. made him a figure of ambivalence even for Russians who liked his daring verse. Mixing well-translated poems with bits from Mayakovsky's short autobiography I, Myself, excerpts from memoirs (by the likes of Osip Mandelstam and Francine du Plessix Gray) and short bits from critics' writings, Almereyda attempts to give Mayakovsky a new audience. Alas, the bits may be too short to sustain readers' interest, and the anthology—like the poet's life—seems choppy, confusing and finished all too fast. (Apr.)
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Mayakovsky, Vladimir
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Vladimir Mayakovsky, Michael Almereyda (Editor)
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