Praise for the Author
Review by TE Ballard
I was recently having a conversation with a friend and she
brought up the fact that she was a “sheet snob”.
If she were given three minutes in a bed she could tell you
exactly what the thread count was. Since I just realized in
my adult life there was such a thing as a “thread count”
the whole encounter came as bit of a shock.
I began to realize that I am what you call “a poetry
snob”. I read everything I can get my hands on and though
there are very few books I adore it does not stop me from
my poetry book addiction and because I believe knowledge or,
maybe in my case, opinions are meant to be shared, I offer
you this space to tell you exactly what I am reading and what
felt like silk or cheap flannel.
When thinking about the poetry book that most influenced
me in 2004 I would have to pick “Dancing In Odessa”
by Ilya Kamisky. I was halfway through the book when I stopped
to write a letter to the author about how I was changed by
The reason I believe I had such a strong reaction is because
Kaminsky became so intimate with the reader so quickly, the
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.
(from Author’s Prayer)
Already we are set up to believe the author is speaking for
countless others, even more so in the following pages when
we discover he has lost his hearing, his country and he fights
within these pages to write his history.
A woman asks at night for a story with a happy ending,
I have none. A refugee,
I go home and become a ghost
searching the houses I live in.
Kaminsky brings us his stories, his gods and his voice. For
a twenty-four year old at the time writing his first book
of poetry this was an amazing feat. Carolyn Forche’
writes, “Kaminsky is more than a promising young poet;
he is a poet of promise fulfilled. I am in awe of his gifts.”
There are very few books in contemporary literature where
I have the need to thank the author because the writing affected
me so profoundly.
He writes towards your mouth
with his fingers.
In the lamplight he sees mud, wind bitten trees,
he sees grass still surviving this hour, page
stern as a burnt field:
Light was. Salvation
he whispers. The words leave the taste of soil
on his lips.
(from Paul Celan)
Copyright © 2005 TE Ballard.
All Rights Reserved.