David turned me on to this poet back in October. I finally received the book through Amazon in early January, and read it straight through during a busy crazy week when I had no time to post anything of significance. I was saving ideas for a lengthy review, but since have passed on to other things. David's mini-review is in any case so well crafted and has such interesting links that that it seems almost redundant to say more -- except read this amazing poet! For starters, I'll post this poem here, which begins his collection. Astonishing that someone born in 1977, who spoke no English until about 10 years ago when he immigrated to the US from Russia with his family, and who besides all that has been deaf since the age of 4, could compose word-music in his adopted language of such wondrous skill and depth:
AUTHOR’S PRAYER by Ilya Kaminsky
If I speak for the dead, I must
leave this animal of my body,
I must write the same poem over and over
for the empty page is a white flag of their surrender.
If I speak of them, I must walk
on the edge of myself, I must live as a blind man
who runs through the rooms
without touching the furniture.
Yes, I live. I can cross the streets asking, “What year is it?”
I can dance in my sleep and laugh
in front of the mirror.
Even sleep is a prayer, Lord,
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.