Ilya Kaminsky

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Ilya Kaminsky
Ilya Kaminsky 4190084.jpg
Born (1977-04-18) April 18, 1977 (age 44)
LanguageEnglish, Russian
Alma mater
SpouseKatie Farris

Ilya Kaminsky (born April 18, 1977) is a hard-of-hearing, USSR-born, Ukrainian-Russian-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, BBC named Kaminsky among "12 Artists who changed the world".[1]


Kaminsky was born in Odessa, former Soviet Union (now Ukraine), on April 18, 1977 to a Jewish family.[2] He became hard of hearing at the age of four due to mumps.[2] He began to write poetry as a teenager in Odessa, publishing a chapbook in Russian entitled The Blessed City.[3] His family was granted political asylum to live in the United States in 1993 due to anti-semitism in Ukraine.[4] He started to write poems in English in 1994.[5]

Kaminsky is the author of two critically acclaimed collections of poetry, Dancing in Odessa (2004) and Deaf Republic (2019). Both books were written in English, Kaminsky's second language.[6]

Over the years, Kaminsky has also become known for his passionate advocacy of translation of international literature in the United States. A long time poetry editor at Words Without Borders,[7] and Poetry International,[8] he has also edited several anthologies of poetry from around the world, including Ecco Anthology of International Poetry (Harper Collins),[9] which is widely used in classrooms all over the country. He has also founded and edited Poets in the World, a book series[10] which is dedicated to publishing compilations of poetry from around the globe, including places such as Iraq, China, Eastern Europe, South America, and elsewhere.

Kaminsky has worked as a law clerk for San Francisco Legal Aid and the National Immigration Law Center. More recently, he worked pro-bono as the Court Appointed Special Advocate for Orphaned Children in Southern California.[11] Currently, he holds the Bourne Chair in Poetry at Georgia Institute of Technology and lives in Atlanta.[12] Kaminsky is a judge for the 2021 Griffin Poetry Prize.[13]

Honors and awards[edit]

Best Book of the Year

Deaf Republic was listed as The New York Times Notable Book[20] and was called Best Book of the Year by numerous publications, including NPR,[27] The Washington Post,[28] The New York Times Book Review,[29] Times Literary Supplement,[30] Publishers Weekly,[30] Financial Times,[31] The Guardian,[32][33] Irish Times,[34] Library Journal,[35] The Daily Telegraph,[36] New Statesman,[37] Slate,[38] Vanity Fair,[39] Lithub,[40] Huffington Post,[41] The New York Public Library,[42] The American Library Association.[43]


Kaminsky is best known for his poetry collections, Dancing in Odessa (2004) and Deaf Republic (2019). He is also known for his work in literary translation, his anthologies of international poetry and his literary essays.

Poetry Collections[edit]


  • "Musica Humana" (poetry, Chapiteau Press, 2002)[48] ISBN 978-1-931498-32-6
  • "Sonya's Fairytale" (poetry, Bonnefant Press, Holland, 2010)[49]
  • "It is the Soul that is Erotic" (lyric essay, Orison Press, 2017)[50]
  • "A Soul's Noise" (lyric essay, Five Hundred Places Press, 2017)[51][52]

In Translation

  • Sagir Cumhuriyet, translated into Turkish (Harfa, Turkey, 2020)[53]
  • Kurtide vabariik, translated into Estonian (Loomingu Raamatukogu, Estonia, 2020)[54]
  • Dansað í Ódessa, translated into Icelandic (Dimma Publishers, Iceland, 2017)[55]
  • Tanzen in Odessa, translated into German (Klak Publishing House, Berlin, 2017)[56]
  • Танцувајќи во Одеcа, translated into Macedonian (Blesok Publishers, Macedonia, 2014)[57]
  • Bailando en Odesa, translated into Spanish (Valparaiso Ediciones, Mexico, 2014)[58]
  • Bailando en Odesa, translated into Spanish (Tupelo Press, USA, 2018)[59]
  • Musika Narodov Vetra, tanslated into Russian (Ailuros Publishing, 2013)[60]
  • Selected Poems and Essays, translated into Chinese (book, Shangai Literature and Art Publishing House, 2013)[61]
  • Bailando en Odesa, translated into Spanish, Libros del Aire, Madrid, 2012[62]
  • Dovenrepubliek, translated into Dutch (Azul Press, Amsterdam, Holland, 2011)[63]
  • Odessa'Da Dans, by Ilya Kaminsky, translated into Turkish, Cervi Siir, Istanbul, 2010[64]
  • On Dance a Odessa, by Ilya Kaminsky, (a book, Editions D'Art Le Sabord, Quebec, 2010)[65]
  • Бродячие музыканты translated into Russian (Moscow, Yunost, 2007)[66]
  • Dansand in Odessa, tr. into Romanian by Chris Tanasescu, (book, Editura Vinea, Bucharest, 2007)[67]


  • "Dark Elderberry Branch: Poems of Marina Tsvetaeva" (Alice James Books, 2012)[68]
  • "A Small Suitcase of Russian Poetry: An Anthology of Translations" (Henry Miller Museum, Ping-Pong Free Press)[69]
  • "Mourning Ploughs Winter: Poems of Guy Jean" (Marick Press, 2012)[70]
  • "If I Were Born in Prague: Poems of Guy Jean" (Argos Press, 2011)[71]
  • "This Lamentable City: Poems of Polina Barskova" (Tupelo Press, 2010)[72]
  • "Traveling Musicians: Poems of Polina Barskova" (Yunost Publishers, Moscow, 2007)[73]

Anthologies Editor

  • "Ecco Anthology of International Poetry" (Harper Collins, 2010)[74]
  • "Homage to Paul Celan" (Marick Press, 2012)[75]
  • "A God in the House" (Tupelo Press, 2012)[76]
  • "Gossip and Metaphysics: Russian Modernist Poems and Prose" (Tupelo Press, 2014)[77]
  • "In Shape of a Human Body I am Visiting This Earth: Poems from Far and Wide" (McSweeneys, 2017)[78]

Book Series Edited

Poets in the World, a Book Series Edited by Ilya Kaminsky[10]

  • Pinholes in the Night: Essential Poems from Latin America, editors Raul Zúrita and Forrest Gander (Copper Canyon Press)
  • Seven New Generation African Poets, editors Kwame Dawes and Chris Abani (Slapering Hol Press)
  • Fifteen Iraqi Poets, editor Dunya Mikhail (New Directions)
  • Another English: Anglophone Poems from Around the World, editors Catherine Barnett and Tiphanie Yanique (Tupelo Press)
  • Elsewhere, editor Eliot Weinberger (Open Letter Books)
  • Bones Will Crow: An Anthology of Burmese Poetry, editor Ko Ko Thett and James Byrne (Northern Illinois University Press)
  • Landays: Poetry of Afgan Women, editor Eliza Griswold, Special Issue of Poetry magazine[79]
  • New Cathay: Contemporary Chinese Poetry, editor Ming Di (Tupelo Press)
  • Something Indecent: Poems Recommended by Eastern European Poets, editor Valzhyna Mort (Red Hen Press)
  • The Star by My Head: Poets from Sweden, editors Malena Mörling and Jonas Ellerström (Milkweed Editions)
  • Open the Door: How to Excite Young People about Poetry, editors Dorothea Lasky, Dominic Luxford and Jesse Nathan
  • The Strangest of Theatres: Poets Writing Across Borders, editors Jared Hawkley, Brian Turner and Susan Rich (McSweeneys)


In 2018, Kaminsky published in The New York Times Magazine a widely discussed lyric essay about deafness and his return to Odessa, Ukraine, after many years away.[80]

He also writes essays on various subjects such as borders, creative life in the age of surveillance, and poetics of Paul Celan, for publications such as The Guardian, The New York Times, and Poetry.[81][82][83]

Critical reception[edit]

Writing for The New Yorker, Kevin Young calls Deaf Republic "a contemporary epic. Evident throughout is a profound imagination, matched only by the poet's ability to create a republic of conscience that is ultimately ours, too"[84]

In The New York Times, Parul Sehgal says: "I was stunned by Ilya Kaminsky's Deaf Republic, lyric poems presented as a play in two acts, set in a country in crisis, inspired both by Odessa, where Kaminsky grew up, and America, where he now lives. It's a book about censorship, political apathy, torture — "the nakedness / of the whole nation" — but also about tomato sandwiches, the birth of a daughter and the sudden, almost shocking joys of longtime married life."[85]

In The Guardian, Fiona Benson says: "I fell hard for Ilya Kaminsky's Deaf Republic. Part folklore, fable, war story and love poem, it imagines an occupied town falling deaf in response to the shooting of a child. Often devastating, always humane, this is a book of the century, let alone this year."[86]

Washington Examiner calls Deaf Republic "a contemporary masterpiece. This book is proof that in 2019 great poetry can enjoy tremendous popularity."[87]

About Kaminsky's first book, Dancing in Odessa, Robert Pinsky writes: "Passionate, daring to laugh and weep, direct yet unexpected, Ilya Kaminsky's poetry has a glorious tilt and scope."[44]

Selected Poems and Essays[edit]




  1. ^ "'12 Artists who Changed the World in 2019". BBC. Retrieved 2019. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  2. ^ a b Armitstead, Claire (2019-07-19). "'I will never hear my father's voice': Ilya Kaminsky on deafness and escaping the Soviet Union". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-11-17.
  3. ^ The Centrum Writers Exchange- August 1, 2008 - The Sunlight of Odessa: Poet Ilya Kaminsky by Jordan Hartt Archived May 1, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Kaminsky, Ilya (2019-02-11). "Deaf Republic". The New Yorker. ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 2019-11-17.
  5. ^ Foundation, Poetry (2019-11-16). "Ilya Kaminsky". Poetry Foundation. Retrieved 2019-11-17.
  6. ^ "ForeWord Magazine - Book Of The Year Awards - 2004 Finalists Print Out". Foreword Reviews. 19 May 2006. Archived from the original on 19 May 2006. Retrieved 12 November 2018.
  7. ^ "Ilya Kaminsky". Words Without Borders. Retrieved 2021-01-26.
  8. ^ "Poetry International @ SDSU". Retrieved 2021-01-26.
  9. ^ "The Ecco Anthology of International Poetry". HarperCollins. Retrieved 2021-01-26.
  10. ^ a b Foundation, Poetry (2021-01-26). "The Poetry Foundation's Harriet Monroe Poetry Institute Launches Its Poets in the World Series". Poetry Foundation. Retrieved 2021-01-26.
  11. ^ "City of Asylum Performers Enter Finals at National Book Awards". Long Shot Books. Retrieved 2021-01-26.
  12. ^ "Georgia Tech Poet Ilya Kaminsky Named Finalist for National Book Award". Retrieved 2019-11-17.
  13. ^ "Griffin Poetry Prize - 2021 Judges", Griffin Poetry Prize
  14. ^ "Los Angeles Times Book Prizes: Ilya Kaminsky, Poetry". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2021-01-26.
  15. ^ "Deaf Republic". Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards. Retrieved 2021-01-26.
  16. ^ Poets, Academy of American. "Academy of American Poets Fellowship | Academy of American Poets". Retrieved 2019-11-17.
  17. ^ "Deaf Republic". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 2021-01-26.
  18. ^ "Deaf Republic by Ilya Kaminsky: 2019 Poetry finalist". National Book Critics Circle. 2020-02-28. Retrieved 2021-01-26.
  19. ^ "Artists who changed the world in 2019". Retrieved 2021-01-26.
  20. ^ a b "100 Notable Books of 2019 (Published 2019)". The New York Times. 2019-11-25. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-01-26.
  21. ^ "| Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts". Retrieved 2021-01-26.
  22. ^ "Deaf Republic (Shortlisted, 2019 TS Eliot Poetry Prize; Winner, 2019 Forward Poetry Prize)". 2019-07-10. Retrieved 2021-01-26.
  23. ^ "Forward Arts Foundation in Conversation with Ilya Kaminsky". Forward Arts Foundation. Retrieved 2021-01-26.
  24. ^ "Ilya Kaminsky".
  25. ^ "America's Nobel: The Neustadt International Prize for Literature". Publishing Perspectives. 2013-08-12. Retrieved 2021-01-26.
  26. ^ Poetry Foundation > Previous Ruth Lily Poetry Fellowship Recipients Archived 2011-01-07 at the Wayback Machine
  27. ^ "NPR's best books of 2020". Retrieved 2021-01-26.
  28. ^ "Bestpoetry collections of 2019".
  29. ^ "Talking About the 10 Best Books of 2019". The New York Times. 26 November 2019.
  30. ^ a b "Books of the Year 2019 - Arts & books roundups".
  31. ^
  32. ^ "The best recent poetry – review roundup". 10 July 2019.
  33. ^ "Best poetry of 2019". 30 November 2019.
  34. ^ "Christmas gifts for readers: The Irish Times guide to best books of 2019".
  35. ^ "Best Poetry 2019".
  36. ^ Saunders, Tristram Fane (4 December 2019). "The best new poetry books to buy for Christmas 2019". The Telegraph.
  37. ^ "Books of the year".
  38. ^ "The 10 Best Books of 2019, According to Slate's Books Editor". 3 December 2019.
  39. ^ "The Best Books of 2019, as Chosen by the Editors of Vanity Fair". 26 December 2019.
  40. ^ "The Ultimate Best Books of 2019 List". 11 December 2019.
  41. ^ "The Year I Fell in Love with Reading Poetry Again". 8 December 2019.
  42. ^ "Best Books for Adults 2020".
  43. ^ "2020 Notable Books List: Year's best in fiction, nonfiction and poetry". 26 January 2020.
  44. ^ a b
  45. ^ "Arc Publications - Books".
  46. ^ "Deaf Republic | Graywolf Press".
  47. ^
  48. ^ "Chapiteau Press Titles".
  49. ^
  50. ^ "It's the Soul That's Erotic: An Essay on Adélia Prado, by Ilya Kaminsky".
  51. ^
  52. ^ "Ilya Kaminsky: A soul's noise, Sanya Kantarovsky, Fivehundred places".
  53. ^ "Sağır Cumhuriyet: Ilya Kaminsky'nin Direnişi Şiirle Buluşturan Eseri Türkçede". 19 November 2020.
  54. ^ "Ilya Kaminsky "Kurtide vabariik"".
  55. ^ "Dansað í Ódessa". 10 September 2018.
  56. ^
  57. ^ "Шеста серија од поетската едиција "ЕваТас" на "Блесок"". 26 November 2014.
  58. ^ "Bailando en Odesa de Ilyá Kamínsky en Valparaíso México". 23 November 2014.
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  69. ^ A Small Suitcase of Russian Poetry: Russian Poetry in Translation. 29 March 2016. ISBN 9780997379501.
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  79. ^ "Landays: Poetry of Afghan Women". Retrieved 2021-01-26.
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External links[edit]