Ilya Kaminsky was born in 1977 in Odessa, in the former Soviet Union, arriving in the United States in 1993, when his family was granted asylum by the American government.
He is the author of Dancing In Odessa (Tupelo Press, 2004) which won the Whiting Writer's Award, the American Academy of Arts and Letters' Metcalf Award, the Dorset Prize, the Ruth Lilly Fellowship given annually by Poetrymagazine. Dancing In Odessa was also named Best Poetry Book of the Year 2004 by ForeWord Magazine. In 2008, Kaminsky was awarded Lannan Foundation's Literary Fellowship.
In 2009, poems from his manuscript Deaf Republic were awarded Poetry magazine's Levinson Prize.
Kaminsky's anthology of 20th century poetry in translation, Ecco Anthology of International Poetry, was published by Harper Collins in March, 2010.
In addition, Kaminsky alsowrites poetry in Russian, and hiis work in that language was chosen for "Bunker Poetico" at the Venice Bienial Festival in Italy.
In the late 1990s, he co-founded Poets For Peace, an organization that sponsors poetry readings in the United States and abroad in support of such relief organizations as Doctors Without Borders and Survivors International.
Kaminsky has read from his work and served as a Writer In Residence at numerous literary centers, colleges. and universities, from Harvard to Naropa. He has also worked as a law clerk at the National Immigration Law Center, and more recently at Bay Area Legal Aid, helping the impoverished and homeless in solving their legal difficulties.
Currently, he teaches contemporary world poetry, creative writing, and literary translation in the master of fine arts program in creative writing at San Diego State University .