translated from the Russian by Alex Cigale
Vladimir Mayakovsky (1893 - 1930) was born in Baghdati, Georgia. When his father died in 1906, he moved with his family to Moscow. He began to compose poetry following one of his arrests for political activity, during a period of solitary confinement in 1909. The 1912 Futurist publication A Slap in the Face of Public Taste contained Mayakovsky's first published poems, along with the influential manifesto of that name. Mayakovsky, along with his mentor and so-called "father of Russian Futurism," David Burlyuk, were expelled from the Moscow Art School in 1914 for their political activities. As a trained visual artist, Mayakovsky made significant contributions to theater, cinema, and particularly to early Soviet propaganda poster art and as editor of the Constructivist journal LEF. Mayakovsky's final work, his famous suicide note, reads: "The love boat has smashed up against the rocks of life."
Alex Cigale is an Editor-at-large at Asymptote. His translations from the Russian, and his own English-language poems, have appeared in Colorado Review, Cortland Review, Modern Poetry in Translation, New England Review, PEN America, Two Lines, Drunken Boat, Gargoyle, and elsewhere. He is on the editorial boards of COEUR Journal, Madhatters' Annual, The St. Petersburg Review, Third Wednesday, and Verse Junkies. From 2011 until 2013, he was an assistant professor at the American University of Central Asia. He is a 2014-2015 NEA Translation Fellow for his work on Mikhail Eremin.