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Night Wraps the Sky: Writings by and about Mayakovsky

Overview

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...

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Overview

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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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Allen Ginsberg admired the epic sweep and social ambition of Mayakovsky's poetry, while Frank O'Hara was fascinated by Mayakovsky's unabashed intimacy with the cosmos. The barbaric-bardic energy and influence of the Russian Futurist giant have been obscured for half a century, but Michael Almereyda has recovered a living, still-breathing figure of folk majesty, a poet-declaimer whose discoveries are far from spent." —Andrei Codrescu

"The poet Mayakovsky may have been a genius, a hipster, a shill, and the first and only early-Soviet rap star. NIGHT WRAPS THE SKY finally does justice to one of the most fascinating and controversial literary bad boys of the 20th Century." —Gary Shteyngart

“Mayakovsky read like a sailor shouting through a megaphone to another ship in a heavy sea.” —John Berger

Library Journal

Vladimir Mayakovsky (1893-1930) was one of the great poets of the Russian Revolution and, along with Lorca and Apollinaire, one of the great poetic idols of the 20th century. Here, filmmaker Almereyda presents all of Mayakovsky's great poems (e.g., "A Cloud in Pants," "Screaming My Head Off," "Getting Along with Horses") alongside excerpts from his memoir (I, Myself), artistic appreciations, and eyewitness accounts that together offer insight into the poet's art and life. The translations-by a new generation of Russian American poets-are consistently wonderful. Rachel Cohen's essay concisely and brilliantly describes the Futurists, the Formalists, the Acmeists, and the Symbolists-all artistic groups surrounding Mayakovsky. The book further explores Mayakovsky's relationships with Lili Brik and Tatiana Yakovleva, explains his propaganda work, and addresses his mixture of the surreal, the lyric, and the sarcastic; the text is generously illustrated with photographs of Mayakovsky's friends and contemporaries and artworks of the times. Encompassing the excitement and glory of the revolution's generation, this is an important addition to literature collections.
—Gene Shaw

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374281359
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 4/1/2008
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.90 (w) x 8.18 (h) x 1.12 (d)

Meet the Author

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.

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