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Pro Eto - That's What, by Vladimir Mayakovsky

Reader reviews

This Arc Publications edition contains the Alexander Rodchenko photomontages which were created especially for this work by Mayakovsky. This is a wonderful publication. Read with friends, read alone, read drunk or sober (if you must), laugh, wallow in self-pity - but don't kill yourself, like Mayakovsky did...

Vladimir Vladimirovich was incarcerated several times.

Не молод очень лад баллад (The music of the ballad sure ain't new) he wrote in response to Wilde. He wrote his very first poem in Butyrka prison. This is not it.

Pro Eto is Dedicated to her and to me.

The question - how did a romantic, idealistic, passionate soul like Mayakovsky survive the times he lived through?

The answer - he didn't. Read his work with respect. He's not faking it.

The poet's words are translated skilfully by Larisa Gureyeva and George Hyde. The reader will not miss too much by reading this work solely in English.

The cook lazily rises
and goes
mumbling and coughing.
She looks like a cider apple
with thoughts wrinkling her brow.

I laughed out loud (as I wrote this review in the pub) when I read brutally accurate descriptions of the poet's friends and the parties in which they floundered around. I wondered to myself, "How could he know my friends - and me - so well?!"

A pair of drunks emerged from under the table.
Trying hard to understand
they creep
from under the cupboard.

A little bit later on, the words (and the party too, one must presume...) assume an hallucinatory quality and the reader is treated to the most deliciously vivid images.

Geraniums slither
up your nostrils
from flowerpots.
Genial grannies crawl
from photo .

Within the confines of this meager space, it is impossible to do justice fully to either Pro Eto or to its translation. I will say however, that, in addition to love, fear and frustration, Mayakovsky writes lucidly upon jealousy, confinement, religion and politics. At other times, his words seem less lucid.
But hey... that's life...or at least, life as it was for Vladimir Vladimirovich.
In the section entitled, 'Romance' there is a chilling foreshadow of his eventual suicide.

Прощайте...
кончаю...
прошу не винить...

Farewell...
I'm putting an end...
Please don't blame me...

TEH, 5 Nov 2010