The opening poem to Ilya Kaminsky’s masterpiece, “Deaf Republic,” is written in the voice of someone who is confessing their complacency during a time of trial. There’s a war going on, but it doesn’t affect the person speaking, so they don’t get involved. Instead they stayed outside and caught the sun. They lived happily during the war, and are now saying (forgive us). This poem leaves us wondering what it would mean to make such a confession, to ask for forgiveness, and whether it’d do any good.
Ilya Kaminsky was born in Odessa, former Soviet Union in 1977, and arrived in the United States in 1993, when his family was granted asylum by the American government. He is the author of Deaf Republic and Dancing In Odessa, and has co-edited and co-translated many other books, including Ecco Anthology of International Poetry and Dark Elderberry Branch: Poems of Marina Tsvetaeva. He holds the Bourne Chair in Poetry at Georgia Institute of Technology and lives in Atlanta.
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