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Deaf Republic and Be Recorder are finalists for the National Book Award for Poetry! 

Deaf Republic

Ilya Kaminsky
Our country woke up the next morning and refused to hear soldiers.
     In the name of Petya, we refuse.
     At six a.m., when soldiers compliment girls in the alley, the girls slide by, pointing to their ears. At eight, the bakery door is shut in soldier Ivanoff’s face, though he’s their best customer. At ten, Momma Galya chalks No One Hears You on the gates of the soldiers’ barracks.
     By eleven a.m., arrests begin.
     Our hearing doesn’t weaken, but something silent in us strengthens.
     In the ears of the town, snow falls.
—from “Deafness, an Insurgency, Begins”
Deaf Republic opens in an occupied country in a time of political unrest. When soldiers breaking up a protest kill a deaf boy, Petya, the gunshot becomes the last thing the citizens hear—all have gone deaf, and their dissent becomes coordinated by sign language. The story follows the private lives of townspeople encircled by public violence: a newly married couple, Alfonso and Sonya, expecting a child; the brash Momma Galya, instigating the insurgency from her puppet theater; and Galya’s girls, heroically teaching signs by day and by night luring soldiers one by one to their deaths behind the curtain. At once a love story, an elegy, and an urgent plea—Ilya Kaminsky’s long-awaited Deaf Republic confronts our time’s vicious atrocities and our collective silence in the face of them.

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Ilya Kaminsky’s astonishing parable in poems asks us, What is silence?

About the Author

Ilya  Kaminsky
Credit: Cybele Knowles, courtesy of The University of Arizona Poetry Center
Ilya Kaminsky was born in the former Soviet Union and is now an American citizen. He is the author of a previous poetry collection, Dancing in Odessa, and coeditor of The Ecco Anthology of International Poetry. He has received a Whiting Award, a Lannan Literary Fellowship, and a Guggenheim Fellowship, and was named a finalist for the Neustadt International Prize for Literature. His work has been translated into more than twenty languages.
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Upcoming Events

Ilya Kaminsky appearing as part of Miami Book Fair

Miami Book Fair International in Miami, FLview map
We Cannot Be Silent: Four Poets Confront Atrocity. In conversation with Jericho Brown, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Reginald Dwayne Betts. Location: Room 1261.

Ilya Kaminsky appearing at Blacksmith Poetry House

Blacksmith House in Cambridge, MAview map
In conversation with Andrea Cohen. Tickets are $3. 


  • Finalist for the 2019 National Book Award in Poetry
    Finalist for the T. S. Eliot Prize
    Finalist for the Forward Prize for Best Collection
  • “Evident throughout [Deaf Republic] is a profound imagination, matched only by the poet’s ability to create a republic of conscience that is ultimately ours, too, and utterly his own—a map of what it means to live ‘in a peaceful country.’”—Kevin Young, The New Yorker
  • “Re-envisioning disability as power and silence as singing, Kaminsky has created a searing allegory precisely tuned to our times, a stark appeal to our collective conscience.”—
  • “Kaminsky speaks of our darkest days, of tyranny and death. Yet he sings of the world—of poetry and dance and sex and love—with the highest praise.”Commonweal Magazine
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