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Dancing in Odessa Paperback – April 1, 2004
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""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
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.
Top Customer Reviews
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
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. Mandelstam was imprisoned and exiled. The poems are simply delicious in their use of language and imagery.
Once or twice in his life, a man
is peeled like apples.
What's left is a voice
that splits his being
down to the center.
We see: obscenity, fright mud
He believed in the human being. Could not
of Petersburg. He cited by heart
of the dead.
"Dancing In Odessa" is a collection of poetry that excited me. Not only due to Kaminsky's use of the English language, but for the truths he shares. In the section "Praise," he speaks of his family's leaving Odessa.
This is how we live on earth, Kaminsky writes. "A flock of sparrows./the darkness, a magician, finds quarters/behind our ears. We don't know what life is,/who makes it, the reality is thick/with longing. We put it up to our lips/and drink."
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
That's all I have to say but more words are required. There we go.
Many have spoken in awe when considering Kaminsky's youth.Read more