Ilya Kaminsky

Ilya Kaminsky (Poetry, Translation) | San Diego, CA

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Ilya Kaminsky is the author of Dancing In Odessa (Tupelo Press, 2004), Musica Humana (Chapiteau Press, 2002) and Deaf Republic (Graywolf Press, 2019). Poems from Deaf Republic were awarded Poetry magazine’s Levinson Prize and the Pushcart Prize and included in Best American Poetry. Kaminsky has won the Whiting Writer’s Award, the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ Metcalf Award, the Dorset Prize, Lannan Fellowship, a Ruth Lilly Fellowship, and the Foreword Magazine’s Best Poetry Book of the Year award. Recently, he was on the short-list for the Neusdadt International Literature Prize. His poems have been translated into numerous languages and his books have been published in many countries including Turkey, Holland, Russia, France, Mexico, Macedonia, Romania, Spain and China, where his poetry was awarded the Yinchuan International Poetry Prize.

He is the editor of several anthologies, among them The Ecco Anthology of International Poetry (Ecco, 2010), co-edited with Susan Harris, which John Ashbery praised as “immediately indispensable;” A God in the House: Poets Talk About Faith (Tupelo Press, 2012), co-edited with Katherine Towler; Gossip and Metaphysics: Russian Modernist Poets and Prose (Tupelo Press, 2014), co-edited with Katie Farris and Valzhyna Mort; and In the Shape of the Human Body I am Visiting the Earth: Poems from Far and Wide (McSweeney’s, 2017) with Dominic Luxford and Jesse Nathan. With Jean Valentine, he has co-translated Dark Elderberry Branch: Poems of Marina Tsvetaeva.

Kaminsky was born in the former Soviet Union city of Odessa. He lost most of his hearing at the age of four after a doctor misdiagnosed mumps as a cold, and his family was granted political asylum by the United States in 1993, settling in Rochester, New York. In the late 1990s, Kaminsky co-founded Poets For Peace, an organization that sponsors poetry readings in the United States and abroad. He has also worked as a Law Clerk at the National Immigration Law Center and at Bay Area Legal Aid, helping the poor and homeless to overcome their legal difficulties. He has taught at several colleges and universities across USA, including New England College and San Diego State University.


Deaf Republic (Graywolf Press, 2019). Poetry.
Dark Elderberry Branch: Poems of Marina Tsvetaeva (Alice James Books, 2012). Co-translated with Jean Valentine. Translation./Poetry.
Dancing In Odessa (Tupelo Press, 2004). Dorset Prize. Poetry.

Edited Anthologies

In the Shape of a Human Body I Am Visiting the Earth: Poems from Far and Wide (McSweeney’s, 2017). Poetry. Anthology.
Gossip and Metaphysics: Russian Modernist Poets and Prose (Tupelo Press, 2014). Anthology.
A God in the House: Poets Talk About Faith (Tupelo Press, 2012). Poetry. Anthology.

The Ecco Anthology of International Poetry (Ecco, 2010). Poetry. Anthology.


  • Musica Humana (Chapiteau Press, 2002). Poetry.

Blurbs, Press & Reviews

“Pulse-quickening, glinting like unburied ore, grounded equally in the imaginative, political, moral, and personal realms, Deaf Republic is a thunderclap book. American poetry needs what Ilya Kaminsky’s performative, possibility-enlarging, boundlessly surprising pages bring to it. Or at least, I do.”
—Jane Hirshfield

“I read Deaf Republic with feverish excitement and deepening wonder. There is rage in these pages, urgency and force and also a great, redeeming beauty. Ilya Kaminsky’s lines buzz with a kind of electric freshness; reading them is like laying your hand on the live wire of poetry. He’s the most brilliant poet of his generation, one of the world’s few geniuses.”
—Garth Greenwell

“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… It seemed to take about five minutes to read this book, and when I began again, I reached the end before I was ready. That’s how compulsive, how propulsive it is to read. It wraps you in a world created by a new and wonderful poet”
The Philadelphia Inquirer

“Ilya Kaminsky’s Deaf Republic is evidence of a profound imagination, a capacious critical intellect, and a brilliant heart-on-fire working in unison to alchemize personal and transpersonal history in order to create a dream book for any and every citizen. This gorgeous long poem is aggrieved, inconsolable, and yet ecstatic, comic, and indefatigably in love with the world. Fables, fairytales, lullabies, love songs, and reports from global daily news all feed into it, but a reader will also discover throughout the deep magic. Deaf Republic is a book of wonders.”
—Li-Young Lee

“How is it that one poet can make the silence visible? How is it that one poet can illustrate — and enlighten — our collective deafness? This is a remarkable book of poems from one of the great symphonic voices of our times. A deep bow.”
—Colum McCann

Deaf Republic is a stunning and prescient drama, like the best books of Marquez and Kundera. Not many American poets, not many poets anywhere are engaged in this kind of work. I think that Deaf Republic will be a splendid, groundbreaking moment. Reading this book, my overwhelming sense is admiration and pleasure.”
—Kwame Dawes

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