Blue Stoop Presents: Sophia Shalmiyev in Convo w/ Alina Pleskova
Born to a Russian mother and an Azerbaijani father, Shalmiyev grew up under the stark oppressiveness of 1980s Leningrad. An imbalance of power and widespread anti-Semitism in her homeland led her father to steal Shalmiyev away, emigrating to America and abandoning her estranged and alcoholic mother, Elena. At age eleven, Shalmiyev found herself on a plane headed west, motherless and terrified of the new world unfolding before her.
MOTHER WINTER, Shalmiyev’s debut memoir, is the story of Shalmiyev’s years of travel, searching, and forging meaningful connection with the worlds she occupies. The result is a searing meditation on motherhood, displacement, gender politics, and the pursuit of wholeness after shattering loss. And ultimately, it is an aching observation of the human heart across time and culture.
ALINA PLESKOVA is an immigrant from Moscow turned proud Philadelphian. She co-edits bedfellows, a literary magazine that catalogs discussion of sex, desire, and intimacy. Poems appear in American Poetry Review,Cosmonauts Avenue, Entropy, Peach Mag, and more. Her first chapbook,What Urge Will Save Us, was published by Spooky Girlfriend Press in 2017. Find her at: alinapleskova.com and @nahhhlina.
"MOTHER WINTER, Sophia Shalmiyev’s catastrophically bright, wavering motion of a memoir, forged through sticky clouds of pain, is vividly awesome and truly great."—EILEEN MYLES, author of Evolution
“MOTHER WINTER is the wrenching story of her exile and grief, but it’s also a chronicle of awakening—to art, sex, feminism, and the rich complexities of becoming a mother herself. Like a punk rock Marguerite Duras, Shalmiyev has reinvented the language of longing. I love this gorgeous, gutting, unforgettable book."—LENI ZUMAS, author of Red Clocks
“Shalmiyev stubbornly, brilliantly pursues loss in this psycho-geography of immigration, grief displacement, and damage… Like the great modernist writers, Shalmiyev writes from, not about, trauma but at a pitch that’s witty, dry, sad, and laconic.” —CHRIS KRAUS, author of I Love Dick
“With sparse, poetic language Shalmiyev builds a personal history that is fractured and raw; a brilliant, lovely ache.”—MICHELLE TEA, author of Against Memoir