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University of Iowa News Release


Sept. 16, 2011

IWP Ida Beam Visiting Scholar Ilya Kaminsky will present public events Sept. 19-22

Russian-American poet Ilya Kaminsky, an Ida Beam Visiting Scholar in the University of Iowa International Writing Program (IWP), will interact with the public in several free events Sept. 19-22. The events include:

--He will answer questions during a live online discussion at at 10:30 a.m. Monday, Sept. 19. Questions may be submitted at

--Kaminsky will discuss translation, international literature and their place in the American literary landscape at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 20, in the Shambaugh House, 430. N. Clinton St. on the UI campus.

--He will read from his award-winning book "Dancing in Odessa" and his forthcoming poetry collection "Deaf Republic" at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 21, in the Frank Conroy Reading Room of the Dey House, 507 N. Clinton St. A reception will follow.

--At 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 22, in the Shambaugh House he will present a lecture and answer questions about the sounds of poetry in the English language.

Kaminsky was born in Odessa, in the former Soviet Union, in 1977 and arrived in the United States in 1993, when his family was granted asylum by the American government.

"Dancing in Odessa," published in 2004, won the Whiting Writer's Award, the American Academy of Arts and Letters' Metcalf Award, the Dorset Prize and the Ruth Lilly Fellowship given annually by Poetry magazine. It was also named Best Poetry Book of the Year by ForeWord Magazine.

In 2008, Kaminsky was awarded the Lannan Foundation's Literary Fellowship, and in 2009 poems from his new manuscript, "Deaf Republic," were awarded Poetry magazine's Levinson Prize.

A review of "Dancing in Odessa" in the Philadelphia Inquirer asserted, "Like Joseph Brodsky before him, Kaminsky is a terrifyingly good poet, another poet from the former U.S.S.R. who, having adopted English, has come to put us native speakers to shame... It seemed to take about five minutes to read this book, and when I began again, I reached the end before I was ready. That's how compulsive, how propulsive it is to read. It wraps you in a world created by a new and wonderful poet."

His anthology of 20th century poetry in translation, the "Ecco Anthology of International Poetry," was published last year and was hailed by John Ashbery as "immediately indispensable."

In late 1990s, Kaminsky co-founded Poets For Peace, an organization that sponsors poetry readings in the United States and abroad with a goal of supporting relief organizations including Doctors Without Borders and Survivors International.

He has also worked as a law clerk at the National Immigration Law Center, and more recently at Bay Area Legal Aid, helping impoverished and homeless people solve their legal difficulties.

He now teaches in the Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing at San Diego State University.

Visit the IWP website at and become a Facebook friend of the IWP at!/pages/International-Writing-Program/39135032067.

The 2011 IWP community of 37 writers from 32 countries includes a mix of fiction writers, poets, translators, essayists, filmmakers, playwrights, journalists, screenwriters, editors and critics.

The 2011 roster of "the United Nations of Writers" includes the representatives from Argentina, Australia, China, Colombia, Finland, France, Germany, Grenada, Haiti, Hong Kong, India, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Myanmar, Nepal, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Scotland, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan, Tibet, Venezuela and Vietnam.

Founded in 1967, the IWP was the first international writers residency at a university, and it remains unique in world literature.

The IWP introduces talented writers to American life; enables them to take part in American university life; and provides them with time, in a setting congenial to their efforts, for the production of literary work. Since 1967, more than 1,200 writers from more than 130 countries have attended the IWP, including Turkish Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk.

The UI is the nation's premiere center for creative writing, and Iowa City is the only U.S. City of Literature in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network. Giving and attending talks and readings, and meeting with well-known and emerging visiting American writers give the international writers broad exposure to currents in American literature. All the activities offered by the program are optional for the participants, and the writers are free to use their time as they wish, to write or to conduct research.

The U.S. Department of State is a major source of support for the IWP. The residency also includes writers participating on grants from their domestic cultural organizations.

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STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACT: Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073,