33. Poet Ilya Kaminsky Appointed Director of Harriet Monroe Poetry Institute

Will lead Poetry Foundation’s ‘think tank’ for two-year term

CHICAGO — The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetrymagazine, is pleased to announce the appointment of Ilya Kaminsky as the new director of the Harriet Monroe Poetry Institute (HMPI). Kaminsky—a poet, critic, and translator—will begin his tenure on January 1, 2011. He succeeds inaugural HMPI director Katharine Coles.

Born in Odessa, in the former USSR, Kaminsky came to the United States in 1993. He is the author of Dancing in Odessa(Tupelo Press, 2004) and currently teaches poetry and comparative literature at San Diego State University, where he will continue to serve as director of the MFA Program in Poetry and remain a tenured associate professor in the Department of English and Comparative Literature.

The HMPI was created in 2008 to provide a space in which fresh thinking about poetry, in both its intellectual and its practical needs, could flourish. HMPI is an independent forum, free of any allegiance other than to the best ideas. The Institute exists to identify and support solutions to benefit the art form in general. By convening poets, scholars, publishers, educators, and other thinkers from inside and outside the poetry world, it addresses issues of importance to the art form of poetry.

Under Coles’s leadership, the HMPI released the report Poetry and New Media, which brought together poets and publishers, as well as experts in law, technology, and media, to examine access to poetry. In January 2011, the Institute will issue theCode of Best Practices in Fair Use for Poetry, a project in partnership with the Center for Social Media at American University that codifies recommendations for fair use of copyrighted poems in specific instances. In addition, in spring 2011, the HMPI will publish an anthology of essays on community-based poetry programs; contributors to the volume include Elizabeth Alexander, Robert Hass, and Dana Gioia, among others.

As the director of the HMPI, Kaminsky will be responsible for a full range of Institute activities, including collaborating with members of the poetry community and innovators from outside the community; commissioning and overseeing original research to support issues related to poetry; seeking a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture; and promoting partnerships, programs, and projects that will benefit poetry as an art form.

“The Institute is a protean organization—its projects arise from the interests and needs of the poetry community, and each project takes on its own necessary shape,” said Coles. “Ilya is the perfect person to carry this work into its second phase: he’s visionary, energetic, and adaptable. I’m delighted to be handing him the reins.” Added Poetry Foundation president John Barr: “We can’t wait to see in what new directions Ilya will take the Institute. He is the ideal appointment.”

Kaminsky was featured in the March 2010 issue of Poetry in a  discussion on poetry translation with critic Adam Kirsch.

Ilya Kaminsky and Katharine Coles are available for interviews. Please call 312.799.8016 to schedule a time to speak with them.

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