Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Author's Prayer: Ilya Kaminsky

One of my favorite Mother's Day activities was attending -- with both of my daughters -- Ilya Kaminsky's reading at the Katonah Poetry Series in 2006. We sat near the front in the Katonah Village Library, mesmerized by this young man's beautiful and powerful poetry and charmed by his generous spirit.

Ilya has given me permission to post "Author's Prayer," the moving opening poem from his collection, Dancing in Odessa, winner of the Tupelo Press Dorset Prize. I first read this piece on the Born Magazine Web site, a fortuitous discovery itself. Born is an "experimental venue marrying literary arts and interactive media. Original projects are brought to life every three months through creative collaboration between writers and artists." If you'd like to experience Ilya Kaminsky's collaboration with artist John Bolster, click here: "Author's Prayer."

Meanwhile, here are his radiant words:

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

After discovering this Web site while wandering the Web -- leap to leap -- I was determined to find a way to collaborate on a project myself. This resulted in a wonderful adventure with artist/designer Rick Mullarky and experimental composer Kala Pierson. I'll do a separate post on this experience. (Coming to this blog SOON!) The sunset photo was taken over the weekend in Patterson, NY.

And speaking of Mother's Day weekend, do come to my Poetry and Wildflowers literary ramble at Ward Pound Ridge Reservation this Saturday afternoon. Merely scroll down or click here for details:
Poetry and Wildflowers


Admin said...

i love how it's so simple yet so profound and touching.

Christine said...

Exactly. I like "I must walk on the edge / of myself ..." I hope you are well -- have wonderful Mother's Day!