Vladimir Mayakovsky







They Don’t Understand at Thing


I walk into the barber’s and whisper:
« Be so kind, comb my ears. »
The smooth barber begins to grow pine needles, —
his face droops, like a pear.
“Red-haired idiot!
Nut! »
He tosses saliva, he yells, he squeals,
and for a lo-o-o-ong
time someone’s head in a crowd
like an old radish.



tr. by Katie Farris and Ilya Kaminsky











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

Ilya is the author of Dancing In Odessa (Tupelo Press, 2004) which won the Whiting Writer’s Award, the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ Metcalf Award, the Dorset Prize, the Ruth Lilly Fellowship given annually by Poetry magazine. Dancing In Odessa was also named Best Poetry Book of the Year 2004 by ForeWord Magazine. In 2008, Kaminsky was awarded Lannan Foundation’s Literary Fellowship

Poems from his new manuscript, DeafRepublic, were awarded Poetry magazine’s Levinson Prize and the Pushcart Prize.

His anthology of 20th century poetry in translation, Ecco Anthology of International Poetry, was published by Harper Collins in March, 2010.

His poems have been translated into numerous languages and his books have been published in Holland, Russia, France, Spain. Another translation is forthcoming in China, where his poetry was awarded the Yinchuan International Poetry Prize.

Kaminsky has worked as a law clerk for San Francisco Legal Aid and the National Immigration Law Center.

Currently, he teaches English and Comparative Literature at San Diego State University.




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