Dancing in Odessa: Poems

Dancing in Odessa: Poems

by Ilya Kaminsky

NOOK Book(eBook)

$8.49 $9.99 Save 15% Current price is $8.49, Original price is $9.99. You Save 15%.
View All Available Formats & Editions

Available on Compatible NOOK Devices and the free NOOK Apps.
WANT A NOOK?  Explore Now
LEND ME® See Details

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781936797318
Publisher: Tupelo Press
Publication date: 01/28/2014
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 58
Sales rank: 405,733
File size: 1 MB

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Dancing in Odessa 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
fieldnotes on LibraryThing 7 months ago
It is bold to write elegies to great masters of your native language who died four decades before your birth in tragic circumstances; yet, Ilya Kaminsky seems comfortable using his adopted language (English) to attach himself to the writers in whose lineage he wishes to belong. He stakes a claim over personal stories in the lives of Osip and Nadezhda Mandelstam, Joseph Brodsky, Isaac Babel and Marina Tsvetaeva--three of whom were ground out of existence by the Soviet government between 1938 and 1941. He also permits into this constellation, Paul Celan, whose Jewishness and experience of suffering presumably outweigh the fact that he wrote his poetry in German. Kaminsky and his family fled the former Soviet Union for the United States, where they were granted asylum. I don¿t know more about his life than that; but the authors mentioned above endured horrendous circumstances.At several points in this volume, Kaminsky makes clear that he has no affiliation (¿I was born in the city named after Odysseus/ and I praise no nation¿¿ ¿The sky my medicine, the sky my country¿); perhaps worried that his readers might not understand that this constitutes a rejection of the national identity of his asylum-givers, he writes, ¿In plain speech, for the sweetness/ between the lines is no longer important, what you call immigration I call suicide.¿ We also know, from the first line of the collection that he aspires to ¿speak for the dead¿¿whether this is easier or more difficult for someone who feels that he has killed his identity, I do not know. Occasionally, throughout the volume, there are moments where Kaminsky shows (appropriate) modesty about his poetic ambitions. For example, to Joseph Brodsky, he writes, ¿You would be ashamed of these wooden lines,/ how I don¿t imagine your death/ but it is here, setting my hands on fire.¿In any case, an ambitious, deep-feeling young poet is constructing, for himself and for his ancestors, a tribute and a bridge. From what I have read, he is not their equal; but he is talented and I will read him again. In his poems grapefruit, small change, levity and intimacy oppose the furies of fascism, search warrants, surveillance and tanks. Prose poems, a glossary and a recipe are integrated sensibly with more lyric verse and a small palette of objects recur throughout all five of the longer, segmented poems: pigeons, wind, tomatoes, coins, ill-fated ships, joints of the human body, lemons, the word ¿syllables¿, biblical references and hands. It works to have these humble nodes, connecting one poem to the next, binding the thoughtful and sometimes touching love poems to his wife with the poems that imagine dead voices from another era in their moments of grief or celebration. There is something logical about selecting objects, forces, and traditions that have not changed and using them as a shared context for diverse human subjects. But, I have not spoken highly enough about the quality of his poetry when he gets things right: he sometimes manages a rapid movement over and through several connected people in a way that is both affectionate and wise. For instance, ¿my mother danced, she filled the past/ with peaches, casseroles. At this, my doctor laughed, his granddaughter/ touched my eyelid¿I kissed/ / the back of her knee.¿¿On my brother¿s head: not a single/ gray hair, he is singing to his twelve-month-old son. / / And my father is singing/ to his six-year-old silence.¿At other times, Kaminsky conjures a very real and sympathetic persona that struggles to connect and remain connected: ¿I bend clumsily at the knees/ and I quarrel no more,/ all I want is a human window/ / in a house whose roof is my life.¿¿He is traveling across her kitchen, touching furniture,/ a small propeller in his head / / turning as he speaks.¿¿Memory,/ I whisper, stay awake.¿A book of poetry is worth reading, from my point of view, if it offers up just a few pages of excerpts this singular and unpretentious. Kaminsky achiev
Jennifer_Matthews on LibraryThing 7 months ago
This is the platonic ideal of poetry. He lets his imagery do the work, not only within the individual poems but throughout the collection. There is beauty, sorrow, love, grief--all conveyed in exquisite, simple and profound poems.
poetontheone on LibraryThing 7 months ago
Ilya Kaminsky constructs a history for the land of his youth. It is an ancestral tapestry that is literary as well as personal, reaching back past aunts and uncles to Mandelstam and Brodsky. He exacts these goals with humility all the while exerting a musicality of language imbued with the fervor of prophecy and powerful imagery bordering on dream. A striking debut collection from a dynamic and wanted voice.
amyfaerie on LibraryThing 7 months ago
This poetry is beautiful, and meeting Kaminsky and hearing him read and teach only makes it more lovely.