NEA Big Read exploring Deaf Republic by Ilya Kaminsky

nea big read logo

April 1 – May 17, 2023

The Athens-Clarke County Library is pleased to be participating in the 2022-2023 NEA Big Read with Dr. Melisa Cahnmann-Taylor from UGA’s College of Education. The National Endowment for the Arts Big Read is designed to broaden our understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book. Our book is Deaf Republic by Ilya Kaminsky. During April, which is both National Poetry Month and Deaf History Month, and concluding in May, we will explore many aspects of this award-winning work in a series of community-wide events.

Deaf Republic propels the reader forward through a harrowing story in two acts that opens with the shooting of a deaf boy in a public square by occupying soldiers. In protest, the townspeople go deaf, organizing their dissent through puppetry and sign language. The New York Times said “A visit to this republic will not leave the reader unchanged.”

**Winner of the National Jewish Book Award for Poetry, Finalist for the National Book Award for Poetry, Finalist for the PEN/Jean Stein Award, Finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize **

Kaminsky was born into a Jewish family in the former Soviet Union, now Ukraine. He lost most of his hearing at the age of four after a doctor misdiagnosed mumps as a cold. His family was granted political asylum by the United States in 1993, settling in Rochester, New York. Read more about Ilya Kaminsky at

Featured Event

Meet Author Ilya Kaminsky
May 8, 5:30-7:30 p.m. Buvez, 585 Barber Street, Suite A
Ilya Kaminsky will read poetry selections from his award-winning book, Deaf Republic. Poet Katie Farris will also read selections from her work and Athens Mountain Singers will perform Balkan songs. An ASL interpreter will be available.

Events at the Library

Eighteen Artifacts: Story of Jewish Atlanta Breman Museum Traveling Exhibit
April 3 – May 7
Eighteen Artifacts explores the history of Jews in Atlanta through artifacts, images, and oral histories. Located on the second floor of the Athens-Clarke County Library.

Live! at the Library featuring Love.Craft Band
May 7, 3 pm
The Love.Craft band features musicians from Love.Craft Athens, a non-profit organization that provides job training for adults with disabilities. Sponsored by Friends of the Athens-Clarke County Library.

Film screening: “CODA”
May 15, 6:30 pm
Join us in this celebration of “Deaf Republic” with a community screening of the Academy award-winning film “CODA.” As a CODA (Child of Deaf Adults) Ruby is the only hearing person in her deaf family. When the family’s fishing business is threatened, Ruby finds herself torn between pursuing her passion at Berklee College of Music and her fear of abandoning her parents. See the trailer.

Book Clubs

The public is invited to attend any of these book clubs that will explore the many themes of Deaf Republic. Stop by the Information Desk to pick up your free copy.

After the End Book Club with facilitator Shamala Gallagher
April 20, 7 pm
Zoom event and in-person at the Library.

Last Monday Book Club with facilitator Alys Wilman
April 24 , 7 pm
Zoom event.

Overbooked Book Club with facilitator Jeff Fallis
April 26, 6:30 pm
Meeting at Viva Argentine, 247 Prince Ave.

Book & a Nosh Book Club with facilitator Melisa Cahnmann-Taylor
May 7, 2 pm
At the Library.

Talking About Books Book Club with facilitator Alys Wilman
May 17, 10:30 am
At the Library.

Community Events

April 1, 10 am – 4 pm
Atlanta Area School for the Deaf (AASD), 890 N Indian Creek Dr, Clarkston, GA 30021
The Georgia Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing is sponsoring its first ever DEAFestival as part of Deaf History Month. This free event will celebrate, promote & preserve Deaf History Month through art, culture, and history. Copies of Deaf Republic will be available.

Silent Book Club Athens
April 4, 6:30 – 8:30 pm
Meeting at The Graduate Athens hotel lobby, 295 E Dougherty St
Silent Book Club Athens was created in early 2020 simply to bring together book lovers in Athens and surrounding areas. There is no assigned reading, no deadline to finish a book, and no required discussion. Bring your book of choice and enjoy reading in the company of others who appreciate and support reading too. Pre-registration required at

Let’s Move Together
April 6, 10:30 am
Athens Community Center on Aging (Center for Active Living Harris Room)
Students will move with their grandparents (or great-grandparents), inspired by shared stories and memories. Led by dancer/choreographer Lisa Yaconelli, everyone will do a short warm-up together and then break up in pairs to share their memories and stories. Children and grandparents will then create short dances together by using simple choreographic techniques. Participants will be eligible to receive one of the featured NEA Big Read companion children’s books featuring differently-abled senses and sensibilities. Books include: We Move Together; I Am Not A Label: 34 Disabled Artists; You Are Enough: A Book About Inclusion. To RSVP, call Allyn 706-549-7850 or email

Athens Word of Mouth
May 3, 7pm – 9 pm
Upstairs at the Globe, 199 N Lumpkin Street
Sign up to read a poem at this open mic monthly event. This month features two special guests — Athens poet laureate Jeff Fallis and Noel Holston, author of “Life after Deaf.” Those in attendance will have an opportunity to take home the featured book of poems. An ASL interpreter will be available.

Five Senses Family Art Day
May 13, 10am-12pm
Georgia Museum of Art
Join us in this free, family-oriented event celebrating the Five Senses. Families and kids of all ages are invited to celebrate the Five Senses with fun art activities. Participants will be eligible to receive one of the featured NEA Big Read companion children’s books featuring differently abled senses and sensibilities. Books include: We Move Together; I Am Not A Label: 34 Disabled Artists; You Are Enough: A Book About Inclusion.

NEA Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest.

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