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Deaf Republic

4.44  ·  Rating details ·  6,416 ratings  ·  1,083 reviews
Ilya Kaminsky's astonishing parable in poems asks us, What is silence?

Deaf Republic opens in an occupied country in a time of political unrest. When soldiers breaking up a protest kill a deaf boy, Petya, the gunshot becomes the last thing the citizens hear--they all have gone deaf, and their dissent becomes coordinated by sign language. The story follows the private lives
Paperback, 80 pages
Published March 5th 2019 by Graywolf Press
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Average rating 4.44  · 
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 ·  6,416 ratings  ·  1,083 reviews

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Mar 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
At the trial of God, we will ask: why did you allow all this?
And the answer will be an echo: why did you allow all this?

What is the language of resistance? Deaf Republic, the much anticipated and long-awaited--fifteen years since his last collection Dancing in Odessa--new collection of poetry by Ilya Kaminsky addresses this question and many others across its haunting narrative. This book is incredible: an epic poem told in a series of contemporary, short-form poems (many of which are powerful o
Jul 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Ambitious, intelligent parable about the ways we are complacent in the face of things we should be up in arms about. Very interesting, both in terms of content and craft.
Dave Schaafsma
Our country woke up the next morning and refused to hear soldiers.
In the name of Petya, we refuse.
At six a.m., when soldiers compliment girls in the alley, the girls slide by, pointing to their ears. At eight, the bakery door is shut in soldier Ivanoff’s face, though he’s their best customer. At ten, Momma Galya chalks No One Hears You on the gates of the soldiers’ barracks.
By eleven a.m., arrests begin.
Our hearing doesn’t weaken, but something silent in us strengthens.
In the ears of the to
Apr 23, 2022 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, book-i-own
This is a powerful book of connected poetry that speaks volumes, especially in light of current events. What happens when we don’t speak up about the atrocities committed against our fellow humans? Or perhaps we speak, but those words are hollow when not followed up with action. Or, maybe we do have a voice but others refuse to listen.

The neighbors peek from behind curtains. Silence like a
dog sniffs the windowpanes between us.

There is a plot to this poetry collection. Ilya Kaminsky weaves toge
Jenna ❤ ❀  ❤
"At the trial of God, we will ask: why did you allow all this?
And the answer will be an echo: why did you allow all this?"

Powerful.... that's all I keep thinking while I'm trying to think of what to say about this book. Powerful. So, so, so powerful.

In alternating verse and prose poetry, Ilya Kaminsky writes the story of the citizens of Vasenka, a town somewhere in Eastern Europe. It is an occupied town and the people protest by becoming deaf and creating a sign language of their own.

It forces
Apr 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant. I wish there were an infinite number of stars to give, because this is that kind of book. A must read if ever there was one.
May 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Simply brilliant! This dark fable of a town under siege is a statement on our times. The people of the town become deaf after a soldier shoots a deaf child at a public gathering. The deafness here is purposeful, though, and a statement on how we can remain silent in the face of government atrocities and institutionalized biases. Tragic, yet filled with beauty, this is a powerful book of poetry.
Mar 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I finished the book in one sitting, memories of my first life in a different country chasing Kaminsky’s brilliant pen like ghosts in the dark. If not the whole book, I beg everybody to read the last poem In a Time of Peace, at the very least.

I could quote the whole book. If you have a twitter account here’s a thread I posted while reading the book. https://twitter.com/exlibrisetc/statu...
Sep 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
If you're one of those poetry-phobic readers (their numbers are legion), this would be a good gateway book. It opens with a Dramatic Personae and reads a bit like a play in two acts. Mostly free verse poems, but sometimes the plot is advanced with a bit of what's called "prose poetry."

The Republic in question is under fascist siege. Soldiers. Executions. The people rebel by pretending to no longer hear, which counts for something when your town is occupied and the soldiers have quartered in the
Tyler Barton
May 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Whatever this is, it’s my new favorite genre of writing.

I can’t believe how much joy this book contains while making legible half a dozen absolute tragedies.
Hannah Fenster
Dec 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The linked poems in DEAF REPUBLIC glint like icicles against a stark background. The light source: a gentle, insistent humanity in the face of tragedy. In the space between sound and silence, action and inaction, the collection builds and re-builds kindness in unexpected, crucial ways. Like a sacred text, DEAF REPUBLIC offers new meanings each time I turn to it, and turn to it again. I’m convinced it holds a prayer inside it, or is a prayer itself.

Thanks to the wonderful folks at Graywolf for th
Eric Anderson
Oct 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Since I’m so accustomed to reading novels I sometimes find it a challenge to get in the right mindset to read a book of poetry because my instinct is to look for a narrative. In a way, I didn’t have to adjust this instinct to read Ilya Kaminsky “Deaf Republic” because there’s a definite overarching story and the book even begins with a list of “dramatis personae”. It takes place in an unspecified village during an unspecified time period. The village has been occupied by military forces who publ ...more
Aug 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-stuff
A boy is killed, the people react. A country is occupied, the people react.
These poems are filled with images of the townspeople as they act against the atrocities in their country, their town, their homes.
There's a feeling of courage and hope throughout. There's also a feeling of pain and sorrow. Always there's a feeling of humanity.
These are lovely poems. I cannot begin to analyze them as I know nothing about poetry. However, the emotions & feelings brought by these poems are ones of people
Jan 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely astonishing.
Julia Gaughan
Feb 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If there is a perfect book, it might be this one.
Tom Mooney
May 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely incredible from start to finish.
Katie Lumsden
Apr 06, 2022 rated it it was amazing
A very strong poetry collection – would highly recommend.
Tamoghna Biswas
**4.5 stars**

“At the trial of God, we will ask: why did you allow all this?
And the answer will be an echo: why did you allow all this?”

I have never read anything quite like this before. Two connected Acts of play (strictly a series of poems, non-conversational) that oscillate through the wide range of emotions from love to grief, anger to vengeance while getting progressively darker, in ways both literal and metaphorical: this sounds as devourable and promising as it gets. Speaking of which,
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I have always meant to read this collection and what better time than when Ukraine is in the news - the poet was born in Odessa, although it was the Soviet Union at the time - and this collection tells the story of a village fighting back. I recommend finding the poet reading his work - he lost most of his hearing at age 4 and that figures into this collection for sure. My favorite is still We Lived Happily During the War.

Feb 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Best book. Best. Expletive-worthy, breathless, wordless book.
Wow, that was something else. I listened to BBC Radio 4's production of Deaf Republic while travelling today and ended up rewinding and relistening to parts over and over again. Utterly extraordinary. This radio adaptation was incredibly well-done (I'm sad it expires soon as I can't keep relistening), with multiple voice actors and, as far as I can tell, not abridged (usually, the abridger is listed in the show notes and there's not mention of that here). I was spellbound by this. It's a lyrical ...more
Carla Sofia Sofia
Mar 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
WOW. This blew me away. More to say, but currently stunned.
Dec 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
"At the trial of God, we will ask: why did you allow this?
And the answer will be an echo: why did you allow this?"

From Deaf Republic: Poems by Ilya Kaminsky / 2019 by @graywolfpress

Kaminsky's second poetry collection investigates communication and language during traumatic times. Sixty poems of various lengths, tell the story of a town/republic where a deaf child is murdered by an occupying force, and how the citizens go silent, communicating with sign language as resistance.

Many of them poems
Laura Passin
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
This is exactly as good as people say it is.
May 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
I read this in silence; it is devastating.
Jan 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A serious political story is told through poetry. The killing of a young deaf boy incites protests that are met with escalating violence from the soldiers. The poems are short, but the story development is quite clear. There is hope seen through an infant, who has her parents brutally murdered, but in the end "our country has surrendered".

The 74 pages that it took to tell this story of some distant, violent country is then told one more time in the final two pages through "In a Time of Peace":

Mar 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I honestly don’t have words for how amazing this poetry collection was. It was something special that I didn’t even know I needed at the moment but it hit me with such a force, the words spoke volumes ( ironically since it’s all about being deaf and silence) I can easily see this being on a very short list for poetry collection of the year come the fall. Please read this .
Hannah Warren
Mar 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Kaminsky's new Deaf Republic will shred you to pieces, all the while showing you how to build yourself back together. Read this book. Devour it. Watch how resistance works. See how dangerous it is. This book is beautifully haunting.

speaks to homeless dogs as if they are men,
speaks to men
as if they are men
and not just souls on crutches of bone."
Christopher Moltisanti's Windbreakers fan
Usually don’t like reviewing poetry books. But this shit spits fire
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Ilya Kaminsky is the Poetry Editor of Words Without Borders. His awards include a Ruth Lilly Fellowship from Poetry magazine and first place in the National Russian Essay Contest. He is the author of Dancing in Odessa which won the Dorset Prize.

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3 likes · 0 comments
“At the trial of God, we will ask: why did you allow all this?
And the answer will be an echo: why did you allow all this?”
“And when they bombed other people's houses, we

but not enough, we opposed them but not

enough. I was
in my bed, around my bed America

was falling: invisible house by invisble house by invisble house --

I tooka a chair outside and watched the sun.

In the sixth month
of a disastrous reignin the house of money

in the street of money in the city of money in the country of money,
our great country of money, we (forgive us)

lived happily during the war.”
More quotes…