Ilya Kaminsky is a Russian Jewish poet and translator who's as good a writer as he is a steward of the genre. In addition to editing tons of anthologies and guest-editing tons of journals, his two previous books—Musica Humana and Dancing in Odessa—were widely praised. Deaf Republic, his new book of linked lyrics about an occupied population trying to resist the government after soldiers kill a deaf boy at a protest, is getting similar treatment. Kaminsky performs the poems from the perspectives of the different characters in the narrative. In one mode, he speaks in a pretty standard Russian-accented English. And in another, he wails and sings like my Russian Jewish grandpa. This style is arresting and makes for a powerful performance.
by Rich Smith
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