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Works of Radical Imagination

Read "Author's Prayer" by Ukrainian-American Poet Ilya Kaminsky, From: "Ink Knows No Borders: Poems of the Immigrant and Refugee Experience"

March 01

by Seven Stories Press

 

The following piece by Ukrainian poet Ilya Kaminsky appears in the collection Ink Knows Know Borders: Poems of the Immigrant and Refugee Experience, edited by Patrice Vecchione and Alyssa Raymond.

Author's Prayer

If I speak for the dead, I must leave
this animal of my body,
I must write the same poem over and over,
for an empty page is the white flag of their surrender.
If I speak for them, I must walk on the edge
of myself, I must live as a blind man
who runs through 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.


Ilya Kaminsky was born in Odessa, former Soviet Union in 1977, and arrived to the United States in 1993, when his family was granted asylum by the American government. His poems have been translated into over twenty languages, and his books are published in many countries, including Turkey, Netherlands, Germany, Russia, France, Mexico, Macedonia, Romania, Spain and China, where his poetry was awarded the Yinchuan International Poetry Prize. In 2019, Kaminsky was selected by BBC as “one of the 12 artists that changed the world.”

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