Ilya Kaminsky’s parable in poems asks us, What is silence? At once a love story, an elegy, and a plea, Ilya Kaminsky’s Deaf Republic confronts our time’s vicious atrocities and our collective silence in the face of them.
... extraordinary ... Love poems... are mingled with poems of grief-stricken horror... and protest... as the book winds toward its dark conclusion. Re-envisioning disability as power and silence as singing, Kaminsky has created a searing allegory precisely tuned to our times, a stark appeal to our collective conscience.
Deaf Republic shares with Joyce’s works, too, a certain difficulty that rewards close (and multiple) readings. But this difficulty is the book’s strength — on levels both poetic and political ... I’m tempted to say I wish the book had ended [earlier]... But a final poem — 'In a Time Of Peace'— serves as a kind of bookend-sequel to [the first poem]. Unfortunately, without the lens of fictional narrative, much of this last poem feels like being tapped repeatedly on the shoulder and asked whether we’ve “gotten” the book’s analogy between Vasenka and contemporary America ... Deaf Republic is a masterfully wrought collection, and this last stanza [of the book] does justice to every line that precedes it.
Entering this book is like entering the narrative of sleepers who waken into a global realization of humanity at its best and worst ... Life and death crouch beside each other in this poetic narrative like two doves on a wire ... While cruelty happens, the watchers do not interfere, and in this book, the watchers are all of us. There is so much love and lilt of morning in this poetry of violence. The poetry itself is a pause, a silence between rage and war.