Ilya Kaminsky

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Ilya Kaminsky
Ilya Kaminsky 4190084.jpg
BornApril 18, 1977
LanguageEnglish and Russian
Alma materGeorgetown University;
University of California, Hastings College of the Law.
SpouseKatie Farris

Ilya Kaminsky (born April 18, 1977, in Odessa, Soviet Union, now Ukraine) is a hard-of-hearing Ukrainian-born Russian-Jewish-American poet, critic, translator and professor. He began to write poetry seriously as a teenager in Odessa, publishing a chapbook in Russian entitled The Blessed City.[1] His first published poetry collection in English was a chapbook, Musica Humana (Chapiteau Press, 2002). His second collection in English, Dancing in Odessa (Tupelo Press, 2004), earned him a 2005 Whiting Award, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Metcalf Award, the Ruth Lilly Fellowship, and the Dorset Prize, and was named the 2004 ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year in Poetry.[2] In 2008, he was awarded a Lannan Literary Fellowship.[3] His poems have appeared in literary journals and magazines including The Kenyon Review,[4] New Republic, Harvard Review, Poetry.[5]

Dancing in Odessa and its chapbook forebear, Musica Humana, have earned Kaminsky superlative praise from reviewers and prominent poets. The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote, "Like Joseph Brodsky before him, Kaminsky is a terrifyingly good poet, another poet from the former U.S.S.R. who, having adopted English, has come to put us native speakers to shame."[6] Jane Hirshfield wrote, "Inventiveness of language, the investigative passion, praises, lamentation, and a proper sense of the ridiculous are omnipresent. Kaminsky's poems are wholly local yet unprovincial, intimate yet free of ego. This first full-length book is a breathtaking debut."[7] Carolyn Forché wrote,

Kaminsky is more than a promising young poet; he is a poet of promise fulfilled. I am in awe of his gifts.[8]

Kaminsky is particularly well known for his passionate, almost ecstatic reading style.


Kaminsky Reads War Poetry, 2011

Kaminsky was born in Odessa, former Soviet Union (now Ukraine), on April 18, 1977. According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, "Kaminsky lost most of his hearing at age 4. He lost his homeland at age 16, when family sought political asylum."[9] At the time, he spoke no English, and continued to write in Russian while learning English.[10]

Kaminsky earned his Bachelor of Arts at Georgetown University, and went on to receive his J.D. from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. He has been invited to teach and read poetry at 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 poor and homeless to solve their legal difficulties. He currently teaches in the graduate creative writing program at San Diego State University, is a faculty member at The Frost Place Conference on Poetry,[11] and lives in San Diego with his wife, Katie Farris.[5][12]

Honors and awards[edit]

Published works[edit]

Full-Length Poetry Collections

  • Dancing in Odessa (Tupelo Press, 2004) ISBN 978-1-932195-12-5
  • Музыка народов ветра (Ailuros Publishing, 2012; translated into Russian by Anastassiya Afanassieva) ISBN 978-0-9838762-8-1



  • "Ecco Anthology of International Poetry" (Harper Collins, 2010)



External links[edit]