Watched/heard Ilya Kaminsky read tonight in the chapel at College Hall, Vermont College of Fine Arts, from Dancing in Odessa and his elegy for Osip Mandelstam. Something that must be shared. Of course, I don’t have video of tonight’s reading, but I found some others on the web.
But to start with here is a snippet from a great Thomas Lux profile of/interview with Kaminsky:
I wanted to know more about his coming to America, and he said, “I can only speak for myself, since my family came to a place only a few immigrants ever come to: upstate New York. If we came to Brooklyn, we would be a different story. But in upstate New York, when our plane landed and the cab took us to our apartment, it was snowing, it was Saturday, and there were no people on the streets [emphasis his]. Coming from Odessa, which is pretty cosmopolitan, I honestly never before experienced the situation when you drive down the street in the broad daylight and there is not a single human being walking. My first experience of USA was surreal. Like there is an atom bomb attack and everyone’s just disappeared. It’s a lonely country. Of course, I got used to it.”
You can read the whole profile at the San Diego Reader.
Hearing Ilya read is a religious experience. I’ll never forget hearing Do Not Go Gentle intoned by him.
I would love to have heard Do Not Go Gentle.
Wow, I was there for that particular residency at VCFA. He blew me away completely!! It was indeed a religious experience. I kept thinking that he reminded me of the wandering mystics.
Kris, I still have the handout from the reading on the nightstand next to my bed. Fascinating. Thank you for commenting here.
I totally missed the handout! They ran out by the time I got there. Not too surprised how quickly they got picked up! I was so bummed. I was going to do a post about it on some outlet, but could never get a copy of the handout.
Thank you for this and for the accompanying video clips, Doug. I will never forget sitting in the room, listening to him, absolutely mesmerized. It’s as if his voice can barely contain all the passion, compassion, wonder, awe of his written words. I, too, keep his “handout” (there should be a better word to describe those fifty-plus packed pages) on my nightstand.