Tag Archives: Ilya kaminsky

Issue 1.2 Fall 2012

Click on the author’s name to read their work(s) and bio. Let us know what you think on our Facebook page and on Twitter using #BlueLyra.

“Cherry Blossom”
Art by Kaori Hanashima

“Coquina Rock Algae”
Art by Robin Grotke


“Orpheus Detail Invert”
Art by Stephen Mead


Suzanne Cope
Neil Mathison
Linda Voss
Thelma Zirkelbach


Anastasiya Afanasieva (tr. by Ilya Kaminsky and Katie Farris)
Dolores Castro (tr. by Toshiya Kamei)
Orit Gidali (tr. by Marcela Sulak)





“La Nona”
Art by Marian Dioguard


Anastasiya Afanasieva

A Note On Anastasiya Afanasieva’s Work

Anastasiya Afanasieva is a brilliant contemporary poet writing in the Russian language who lives in the Ukraine. Living in one country, writing in a language of another, in a time of difficult historical transition, writing in free verse in a culture that is very oriented towards more formal verse structures, writing in a very young literature but being influenced by poets (such as Paul Celan) of quite different traditions, writing in a language whose speakers still associate poets with bards, while being a professional psychiatrist by trade, all of this gives Afanasieva’s voice a sense of dislocation, of strangeness that characterizes the work of many great poets. She posseses both strangeness and a sense of clarity of view which is unmistakable. Already recognized as one of the best Russian poets writing outside of the borders of Russia proper, this poet has a great deal to bring to her native traditions, and to those of other languages. — Katie Farris & Ilya Kaminsky


Katie Farris (translator) is the author of BOYSGIRLS (Marick Press) and her work has appeared in many literary journals including Virginia Quarterly Review, The Literary Review, Indiana Review, Verse, and numerous others. She teaches literature and creative writing at San Diego State University.

Ilya Kaminsky (translator) is the author of Dancing In Odessa (Tupelo Press) and co-editor of Ecco Anthology of International Poetry (Harper Collins).


From “Cold” 

by Anastasiya Afanasieva (tr. Ilya Kaminsky and Katie Farris) 

And a neighbor-lady the other day lost her glorious dog, Tita.
And now she stands and chews
a clump of snow in her palm.
And a hand without a glove
is red as a shame.
And this I saw, in the morning, walking out of my window.

Walk, hug my torso, as if I know your torso.
Walk as if a hand can console a human torso.

(Step a way from me, you idiot, my neighbor-lady yells.)


I am unaware of the concept of neighbors
Their faces, strange,
I see in backyards, on the morning walk to work
on the evening walk from work
I see their faces.

(And my body to their eyes, my body, is snow)

Momentary beings, lungs
in snow
who can console snow, lungs?


To winter’s narrow splinter
Of s street, to an idiot neighbor
And her idiot dog
We will now announce:


To quiet and naked branches of poplars
To faces  also quiet
In winter’s splinter
Of a wind, say:


To a voice you don’t hear
The real
Voice, cold, cut from stone in
a bone:


To no one, unknown
One blue on white
And quiet that splinters
the winter:



The Plain Sense of Things 

by Anastasiya Afanasieva (tr. Ilya Kaminsky and Katie Farris)

Of simple things – whisper, whisper – not
touching the ear of another –
believe – in another’s – eardrum.
So February opens, opens-
The time
whistles in a straw
as if a child sips from a glass of sparkling water.
Mouth opens, opens
before each word.
And the “o” of the mouth
is quiet
with want. Wide, and restrained, want.

And the snow comes as if no one knows about us
and no one needs us
and there was no
breath, no failure
and no earth that takes us inside.

Of simple things – in whisper, whisper.
So gives us to our bodies, time.
So the hands are held in hands, the bodies
drop into us.
So, the flame —
which comes from this evening
which is in our stomachs.
Our stomach, a city where we
are not yet persons. And no longer a breath, us.
And we — we want to go back to that breath, us.
We remember, us. 

Of simple things whisper, whisper.
Whisper us. Us, time.