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Westminster hosts Ilya Kaminsky poetry reading

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Posted on Wednesday, February 13, 2019

NEW WILMINGTON, PA – Award-winning and internationally acclaimed poet Ilya Kaminsky will read from his works at 7 p.m., Wednesday, March 6, in the Maple-Witherspoon Room of Westminster’s McKelvey Campus Center.

Born in 1977 in Odessa, in the former Soviet Union, Kaminsky—who lost most of his hearing at age 4—and his family were granted political asylum to the United States in 1993. Kaminsky began to write poems in English following his father’s death in 1994.

“I chose English because no one in my family or friends knew it—no one I spoke to could read what I wrote. I myself did not know the language. It was a parallel reality, an insanely beautiful freedom. It still is,” Kaminsky said in an interview with The Adirondack Review.

In 2002, the Tupelo Press published Kaminsky’s “Dancing In Odessa,” a book of poems that draw on his experiences in Odessa. The book earned the 2004 Best Poetry Book by ForeWord Magazine, the Whiting Writer’s Award, the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ Metcalf Award, the Dorset Prize and the Ruth Lilly Fellowship presented by Poetry magazine.

Kaminsky’s most recent collection, “Deaf Republic,” will be published in March 2019.

Kaminsky’s work has been translated into several languages and his books have been published in many countries, including Turkey, Holland, Russia, France, Mexico, Macedonia, Romania, Spain and China, where his poetry was awarded the Yinchuan International Poetry Prize.

Kaminsky’s other honors include the Milton Center’s Award for Excellence in Writing, the Florence Kahn Memorial Award, Poetry magazine’s Levinson Prize, Philips Exeter Academy’s George Bennett Fellowship and a Lannan Foundation fellowship.

Kaminsky co-founded Poets for Peace, which sponsors poetry readings across the globe to support relief work. Kaminsky has also worked as a clerk for the National Immigration Law Center and for Bay Area Legal Aid.  Kaminsky holds a B.A. from Georgetown University and a J.D. from the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law.

The poetry reading—sponsored by the Westminster Department of English, the Disabilities Awareness Club and Scrawl—is free and open to the public.

For more information, contact Dr. David Swerdlow, professor of English, at 724-946-7345 or