Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

GU Graduate Receives Poetry Award

ALUMNI GU Graduate Receives Poetry Award Russian Ex-Patriot Writes of Exile and Dislocation By Kata Kertesz Hoya Staff Writer

Georgetown graduate Ilya Kaminsky (COL ’01) was recently awarded the Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship for poems from his manuscript, “From the Province Of Gratitude.”

Kaminsky said that the poems that won the award were about “memory and forgetfulness, joy and death.” The selections were taken from his manuscript, which is currently being considered by several publishers.

He referred to his work as “imaginary memoirs” rather than confessional memoirs. “I am not a confessional writer, I rather like to imagine confessions. I write long poems, but they are mostly lyrical. They deal with the history of the personal and the imagination,” he added.

Kaminsky was born in the former Soviet Union and moved to the United States in 1993. English is his second language, “not my first language, but it is the one I love,” he said.

English Professor David Gewanter, Kaminsky’s advisor at Georgetown, said that Kaminsky was involved in Russian and East European poetry.”Ilya Kaminsky’s haunting poems are born of exile, cultural and linguistic dislocation,the cold burn of desire for a lost

father. Having arrived here . . . in her mid-teens, Ilya both adopted a new language and a new literary father, Josef Brodsky, to supplant his own father who died,” Gewanter said. Gewanter nominated Kaminsky for the award.

Kaminsky co-founded Poets for Peace, which collects donations for relief agencies and organizations at poetry readings in coffee shops and bookstores. It is aimed at “fostering world peace through the healing power of poetry.” It was founded in the late 1990s in response to the crisis in the Balkans.

Since the Sept. 11 attacks, they have become more widespread and the effort has been intensified. “Now, after Sept. 11, Poets for Peace took a wholly new form, a new energy.”

“When the disaster happened there was a kind of emptiness in the chest, a kind of sorrow that demanded to be filled, spoken to, spoken for,” Kaminsky said.

Poets for Peace is working with relief organizations like the Red Cross and United Way, in a series of nationwide readings entitled “Mission 911,” to provide aid for the children of New York and Washington. Kaminsky won various awards and contests while attending Georgetown, including the English Department’s Ora Mary Phelam Poetry Prize, and the National Shepardi Poetry Contest.

Kaminsky also won a competition to work as a Writer in Residence at Phillips Exeter Academy. The position provided him with the opportunity to work on his manuscript and give some lectures and poetry readings. “I write sporadically but with lots of force and intensity. So the gift of time that came along with the Phillips Exeter position was very helpful,” he said.

Kaminsky is currently enrolled at the University of California Hastings College of the Law. He is also working on a second book of poetry and remains active in Poets for Peace and edits for the online literary magazine In Posse Review.

Kaminsky was an honors graduate who double-majored in English and Political Science.

The Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship is awarded to two people annually, by Poetry Magazine and the Modern Poetry Association.

More to Discover