Award-winning poet Ilya Kaminsky reads selections from his book, “Deaf Republic.”

Author Ilya Kaminsky smiles in a black and white headshotJoin UCF for a poetry reading and book signing by Deaf Republic author Ilya Kaminsky.

Deaf Republic (2019) follows a family of puppeteers as they struggle to resist the war that surrounds them. Drawing connections between global and local political conflicts and conveying the importance of standing up to tyranny, Deaf Republic weaves a rich allegory of the urgency of collective action in times of oppression. Told in two acts, it begins with a shooting of Petya, a deaf boy, by soldiers occupying the fictional town of Vasenka. In response to his murder, the townspeople collectively go deaf, inventing their own sign language and using puppets to resist their oppressors. As the sound of the gun that kills Petya triggers deafness in the villagers, disability acts as a metaphor for the limitations of empathy and dangers of ignorance.

Ilya Kaminsky is a USSR-born, Ukrainian-Jewish-American poet, critic, translator and professor. He is best known for his poetry collections Dancing in Odessa and Deaf Republic, which have earned him several awards. In 2019, the BBC named Kaminsky among “12 artists who changed the world.”

This event is part of the NEA Big Read: Central Florida, which is pleased to present a series of events celebrating Deaf Republic by Ilya Kaminsky. An initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest, the NEA Big Read broadens our understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the power of a shared reading experience. Learn more at

Partial funding for NEA Big Read supplemental programming is provided by Florida Humanities. Funding for this program was provided by Florida Humanities and sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Arts and Culture, and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture.

ASL interpreters will be in attendance at this event.

Logos for Florida Humanities, Florida Arts & Culture, and National Endowment for the Humanities


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We extend particular gratitude to the staff and administration of Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts for their partnership over the past ten years.

Thank You to Our Supporters

Logos for LIFE at UCF, OUC The Reliable One, Florida Arts and Culture, Downtown Orlando, Rockley Family Foundation, and Sigma Alpha Iota Philanthropies Inc.

Sponsored in part by the State of Florida through the 
Division of Arts and Culture and the National Endowment for the Arts.

  • The Judith and David Albertson Endowment in the Arts
  • Cartwright Family Humanities & Arts Endowment
  • Phil and Jane Easterling
  • LIFE at UCF
  • Orlando Downtown Development Board
  • OUC – The Reliable One
  • Women’s Club at UCF, Inc.

Thank You to Our Festival Partners

  • Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts
  • National Young Composers Challenge
  • Orlando Family Stage
  • Orlando Shakes
  • Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra
  • UCF College of Health Professions and Sciences
  • UCF Global Perspectives and International Initiatives
  • UCF Rosen College of Hospitality Management
  • Winter Park Institute
  • WUCF