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 poems have recently appeared in Colorado, Green Mountains, North American, and Tampa reviews, as well as Drunken Boat and McSweeney's. His translations from the Russian can be found in Ancora Imparo, Cimarron Review, Literary Imagination, Modern Poetry in Translation, PEN America, Brooklyn Rail InTranslation, The Manhattan, St. Ann's, and Washington Square reviews. He is currently Assistant Professor at the American University of Central Asia in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Other translations of Gennady Aygi by Cigale have appeared in Drunken Boat and Plume Poetry.