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Dancing in Odessa Paperback – April 1, 2004

4.8 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

...a remarkable debut, one that affords a rare and exhilarating pleasure: the sense of being at the start of something marvelous.Boston Review

""A superb and vigorous imagination, a poetic talent of rare and beautiful proportions, whose work is surely destined to be widely and enthusiastically noticed and applauded. This is the start of a brilliant career.""Anthony Hecht

""Kaminsky is more than a promising young poet; he is a poet of promise fulfilled. I am in awe of his gifts.""Carolyn Forché

""Passionate, daring to laugh and weep, direct yet unexpected, Ilya Kaminsky's poetry has a glorious tilt and scope.""Robert Pinsky --Review

About the Author

Ilya Kaminsky
was born in Odessa, former Soviet Union in 1977, and arrived to the United States in 1993, when his family was granted asylum by the American government.
Dancing In Odessa (Tupelo Press, 2004) won the Whiting Writer's Award, the American Academy of Arts and Letters' Metcalf Award, the Dorset Prize, the Ruth Lilly Fellowship given annually by Poetry magazine. Dancing In Odessa was also named Best Poetry Book of the Year 2004 by ForeWord Magazine. In 2008, Kaminsky was awarded Lannan Foundation's Literary Fellowship.
In 2009, poems from his new manuscript, Deaf Republic, were awarded Poetry magazine's Levinson Prize. Currently, he teaches Contemporary World Poetry, Creative Writing, and Literary Translation in the Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing at San Diego State University.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 58 pages
  • Publisher: Tupelo Press; 2nd edition (April 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1932195122
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932195125
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6.4 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #260,399 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ilya Kaminsky was born in Odessa, former Soviet Union in 1977, and arrived in the United States in 1993, when his family was granted asylum by the American government. He is the author of Dancing In Odessa (Tupelo Press, 2004) which won the Whiting Writer's Award, the American Academy of Arts and Letters' Metcalf Award, the Dorset Prize, the Ruth Lilly Fellowship given annually by Poetry magazine. In 2008, Kaminsky was awarded the Lannan Foundation's Literary Fellowship, and in 2009, poems from his manuscript, Deaf Republic, were awarded Poetry magazine's Levinson Prize. Currently, Kaminsky teaches Contemporary World Poetry, Creative Writing, and Literary Translation in the Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing at San Diego State University.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Reviewed by Small Spiral Notebook:
It was in 1993 that the family of poet/lawyer Ilya Kaminsky received asylum as political refugees. Kaminsky has never returned to the "city of his childhood" because the country he left exists only in his imagination. Still, he has documented that life and its memories in his first full-length book, "Dancing In Odessa."
Winner of the 2002 Dorset Prize from Tupelo Press, "Dancing In Odessa" is a joyous achievement. Passionate. Compassionate. Daring in its use of imaginative language. Though the work, written in English, has a deep feeling for a life lived in another country, the words transcend to one universal.
The book opens with "Author's Prayer," a work that sets the tone for the work.
I will praise your madness, and
in a language not mine, speak
of music that wakes us, music
in which we move. For whatever I say
is a kind of petition, and the darkest
days must I praise.
Continuing to speak, the importance of words and language, is predominant in Kaminsky's poems. Perhaps that can be contributed to his early life in the Soviet Union; among other things, his grandfather killed and his grandmother exiled to Siberia. Kaminsky has stated that "family narrative" is not his "thing;" his goal is one of "imaginary memoir," of being a storyteller and so he writes.
In Praise of Laughter," he mentions the need for continuance:
all our words, heaps of burning feathers
that rise and rise with each retelling.
And in the title poem:
I retell the story the light etches
Into my hand: Little book, go to the city
without me.
One section of the book, Musica Humana, is an elegy for Osip Mandelstam, a Russian poet who dared to criticize Joseph Stalin in his work.
Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
This book cannot be praised enough. Here you have the opportunity to read the early poems of one of the generation's best poets. As has been remarked by previous reviewers, there is an optimism in Kaminsky's poems even amidst tragedy; an unearthly eloquence and musicality to each and every line. It is an unbelievably refreshing tone.

You'll breeze through the book in no time and then realize that you can spend a day on every page. This is a book of transport - to another time, another country, in other bodies and minds - and what you will find there is a new mythos - cities of birds and song and silence all together. And there, on the bench reading a small book filled with beauty in the midst of cobblestones? Why it is you.
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Format: Paperback
This book was like a blow to the head - thunderously moving, intensely tragic, uplifting, and comic by turns. The way the author weaves his poems together in the book is inspiring - a turn of phrase or image recurs in a way that seems totally natural, as in musical phrases. His love poetry to "Natalia" is everything love poetry should be. A pleasure to read - and the book is even more amazing considering the writer is so young and that English is not his first language. Also, unlike so many modern poets, though Kaminsky's poetry often deals with horrific events, the overall movement of the book is optimistic, even dare I say the work uplifting.

Applause, applause.
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Format: Paperback
Kudos to Tupelo Press for selecting and publishing Dancing in Odessa (the book itself is lovely). If you're bored with most contemporary American poetry, or don't trust most poetry in translation, you've got to read this. Here is a poet that can make you believe in the possibililty of poetry, that real poetry is still possible.
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Format: Paperback
I had the pleasure of hearing Ilya Kaminsky read his poetry from Dancing in Odessa the other day at my college. He came into the room and seemed a bit shy at first. Uncertain as to "what to do" he began to read from his book. A powerful and lyrical voice filled the room and everyone was glued to her/his seat listening. He not only writes wonderful, thought-provoking and dazzling poems but he reads with an energy unsurpassed. He uses his voice in incredible ways, incredible ranges and he employs his whole body in the experience. One gets the sense she is witness to something profound and passionate, spellbinding. Kaminsky's voice is strange, beautiful and musical.
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Format: Paperback
I've said before, and I'll say again: I love Ilya Kaminsky. Whatever cleverer reviewers have written is true. There's a din, I know. I've seen your eyes. You've read too many machinepoems, chatted too much, eaten too much cheese. Help is on the way.
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Format: Paperback
I highly recommend Ilya Kaminsky's first book. It is full of small beautiful lyric moments that rise across history. His love poems are simply beautiful. I can't agree more with those reviewers too who mention Kaminsky's style of reading. The poet Joe Weil once wrote "poetry has forgotten how to praise/ forgotten how to pray." Ilya Kaminsky has not forgotten either.
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By Reader on December 22, 2006
Format: Paperback
from the first encounter to the sixtieth, this book grabs and holds. It is a daring, beautiful debut and the kind of book that makes me invest in books of poetry, hopeful each time that they will yield the percentage of brilliance and beauty that this book does. Kaminsky reminds me why we write and why we read.
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