Visiting Poets

Ilya Kaminsky

Ilya Kaminsky

Born in Odessa in the former Soviet Union, Ilya Kaminsky is a poet, critic, translator, and professor named by the BBC as one of 12 artists that changed the world in 2019. His collection Deaf Republic (Graywolf, 2019), a parable of war that re-envisions disability, has been described as “not merely one of the best, most surprising, beautiful, tragic, gripping, and sadly relevant books of the year, but arguably of the entire decade.” Kaminsky is also the author of Dancing in Odessa (Tupelo Press, 2004) and his numerous awards include a Whiting Writers’ Award, The Los Angeles Times Book Award, and The Anisfield-Wolf Book Award. Kaminsky’s poems have been translated into over 20 languages. He holds the Bourne Chair in Poetry at Georgia Institute of Technology and lives in Atlanta.

Ilya Kaminsky reads on Tue., Apr. 20 at 7:30 p.m. EDT. To register:

Select Poems

Fourteen people, most of us strangers,
watch Sonya kneel by Petya

shot in the middle of the street.
She picks up his spectacles shining like two coins, balances them
        on his nose.

Observe this moment
—how it convulses—

Snow falls and the dogs run into the streets like medics.

Fourteen of us watch:
Sonya kisses his forehead—her shout a hole

torn in the sky, it shimmers the park benches, porch lights.
We see in Sonya’s open mouth

the nakedness
of a whole nation.

She stretches out
beside the little snowman napping in the middle of the street.

As picking up its belly the country runs.


 – Deaf Republic (Graywolf Press, 2019)

You must speak not only of great devastation—

we heard that not from a philosopher
but from our neighbor, Alfonso—

his eyes closed, he climbed other people’s porches and recited
to his child our National Anthem:

You must speak not only of great devastation—
when his child cried, he

made her a newspaper hat and squeezed his silence
like two pleats of an accordion:

We must speak not only of great devastation—
and he played that accordion out of tune in a country

where the only musical instrument is the door.


  – Deaf Republic (Graywolf Press, 2019)

Poetry Center Reading

Spring 2021