Synonyms for Silence

Books distributed by the Chicago Distribution Center

96 pages | 6 x 9 | © 2019

ISBN (pbk): 978-1-946724-14-4

ISBN (ebook): 978-1-946724-15-1

Published April 2019

Synonyms for Silence


A. Molotkov

Molotkov’s third poetry collection, Synonyms for Silence, traverses a terrain of terror and wonder. These sharp, brief lyrics and prose poems subject the world to ethical and metaphysical scrutiny, examining the familiar as well as the unknowable aspects of human existence and contrasting our transient chemical reality with our ability to manifest meaning.

This is a book in which the dead speak, grief is a bird, bombs turn to petals, scars become bridges, and snowflakes remember their last melting. Through his use of potent, sometimes perplexing metaphors and vivid, often surreal imagery, Molotkov places us in the moment of choice, of truth, of suffering, and honors it with tenderness and care, offering solace through our shared humanity.


I envy air, its discrete non-involvement
with our vision, except to paint the sky

a fake blue, or to serve as a canvas

for dawn. I wish I could summon myself
invisibly like the wind. I wish I could be

cleared. What wouldn’t I give for a little

transparency. Even polluted, I will not
complain. Even cancer is part of me. In the end,

I will be smoke over your city. I envy

the spaces between things.

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About the Author

A. Molotkov was born in Russia and moved to the US in 1990. He switched to writing in English in 1993. His previous poetry collections are The Catalog of Broken Things and Application of Shadows. Published in Kenyon Review, Iowa Review, Antioch Review, Massachusetts Review, Atlanta Review, Bennington Review, Tampa Review, Pif, Volt, and many more, Molotkov is the winner of various fiction and poetry contests and an Oregon Literary Fellowship. His translation of a Chekhov story was included by Knopf in their Everyman Series. He co-edits The Inflectionist Review and writes poetry on Wednesday nights, dedicating other evenings to prose. Please visit him at

A. Molotkov
Photo Credit: Laura Stahman

Praise for Synonyms for Silence

“Here is a poet of the wildly surreal, who lives such questions as “What kind of silence boils in a heart / that’s stopped?” and “Are thoughts made of our / own flesh?” Here is a poet who finds answers in the silences of our cacophonous time: “Our flesh is a ship stripped of sails.” A. Molotkov, a poet of paradox: “I’ve tried all / sorts of silences to say / something small, smaller / than one can hear.” A collection of great intellect and sensuality.”
Frances Payne Adler, author of The Making of a Matriot

“In Synonyms for Silence, A. Molotkov responds with clarity and in-sight to the essential reality of who we are and what we have done. His work is rigorous, distinctive, and vital.”
Don Bogen, author of An Algebra

“A meditation on shifting time—personal, cultural and geological—presented in a spirit of experimentation and wonder, shot through with startlingly beautiful questions. ‘Diamond, was it/worth it? Sand, what’s your / last wish?’”
Alicia Jo Rabins, author of Fruit Geode

“These pages hold thunderous yet subtle movements, like the short lyrics of Rilke rendered with Zbigniew Herbert’s clarity.”
José Angel Araguz, author of Until We Are Level Again

“Some poets will revel in the orgiastic wordplay emboldened by the indulgence of the ego; others—and Molotkov is decidedly in this camp—will attempt to elevate perspective by the subjugation of the self. The poems in this collection create feeling not by painting whimsical pictures, or reaching for sentimental triggers. The poet uses stark realities as landmarks in a reconnaissance effort that strives to leave behind the whimsy and sentimentality that is the breathable atmosphere of the ego. It feels like a search for meaning and I don’t suppose poetry could have any higher calling.”
Joyless House Book Reviews

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