Tuesday, January 03, 2023

Quarters, other small coins, darkness, and happiness in Ilya Kaminsky's "Dancing in Odessa"

In his poem "Praise", from the 2004 collection "Dancing in Odessa", Ilya Kaminsky plays with the image of a relative who arrives to surprise children with a magic trick: "The darkness, a magician, finds quarters // behind our ears." Here, the personification of darkness, otherwise a figure of fear or anxiety, turns it into the small gift of the comedy and nostalgia of a childhood memory. The link between coins and a noun with "-ness" echoes an earlier moment in the book, from "American Tourist": "happiness // is money, yes, but only the smallest coins." The quarters and other small coins figure the happiness drawn out of darkness in Kaminsky's poems. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 3 January 2023)



Dancing in Odessa - Ilya Kaminsky - 9780571369188 - Allen & Unwin ...

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