‘Deaf Republic’ to make itself heard on April 22

Ilya Kaminsky, guest poet at Idyllwild Arts Photo courtesy Idyllwild Arts Foundation

The hearing-impaired poet Ilya Kaminsky’s new book, “Deaf Republic” (Graywold Press, 2019), speaks truth in order to create what The New Yorker calls “a republic of conscience.” He’ll raise his voice on behalf of truth and conscience in the Fireside Room in Nelson Dining Hall on the Idyllwild Arts campus, on April 22.
Poets can excavate a purity of the word in a world that often buries language under lies designed to normalize the unspeakable. The lies of anti-Semitism caused Kaminsky’s family to flee Ukraine in 1993, when he was 16.
“Deaf Republic” has often been called “long-awaited” because 15 years had passed since his début book of poetry “Dancing in Odessa” (Tupelo Press, 2004) was greeted ecstatically. One reviewer wrote that many of “Dancing in Odessa”’s poems were “almost unbearable in their beauty,” and the celebrated poet Robert Pinsky called Kaminsky’s work “passionate” and “direct and unexpected,” with “a glorious tilt and scope.” The new book, “Deaf Republic,” has inspired similar praise.
Kaminsky also understands the power of humor to disarm an assault of lies, writing in one place that “each man is already / a finger flipped at the sky.” He has remarked in an interview that “exile is good for you if you are a poet” because it “teaches you that loss is also a gain … by beating you with a hammer on your head.”
He is more than an award-winning poet whose honors include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Motivated by his own experience of dispossession, Kaminsky has worked as a law clerk for San Francisco Legal Aid and the National Immigration Law Center, and in Southern California as a court-appointed special advocate for Orphaned Children.
Come to the Fireside Room on the Idyllwild Arts campus at 7:30 p.m. Monday, April 22, to hear poetry that is the perfect counterbalance to a time in which so many people feel exiled from the republic of conscience and beaten on their heads by the hammers of lies.
The event is free and open to the public though space is limited.