Ilya Kaminsky [ USA ]
Musica Humana, 2002
Dancing in Odessa, 2004
Gossip & Metaphysics, 2014
Ilya Kaminsky was born in Odessa, Ukraine in 1977. He is profoundly deaf since age of four. In 1993, he moved with his family to USA, where they were granted asylum. He received a BA in political science and English from Georgetown University and a J.D. from the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law.
In 1994, the year of his father’s death, Kaminsky began composing poems in English, although he had written solely in Russian up to that point. In an interview with »The Adirondack Review«, a literary magazine, Kaminsky explained the reason for this new approach: »I chose English because nobody in my family or friends knew it – no one I spoke to could read what I wrote […] It was a parallel reality, an insanely beautiful freedom.« His first collection of poetry, »Musica Humana«, is an elegy to Ossip Mandelstam and was published in 2002. In 2004, Kaminsky received tremendous acclaim for his second book of poetry »Dancing in Odessa«. Critics praised his work as being breathtakingly rhythmical, musical, full of keen metaphors, deeply moving and simultaneously capable of providing comfort. Some of the poems in this collection evoke Odessa, the city of Kaminsky’s childhood. The author received several awards for »Dancing in Odessa«, including the Dorset Prize, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Metcalf Award and the Whiting Writers’ Award, Lannan Fellowship, and others. »ForeWord Magazine« named the collection its Best Poetry Book of the Year. The American Academy of Arts and Letters compared Kaminsky’s work to the paintings of Chagall, that is, poems in which »the law of gravity is suspended and colors reassigned, but only to make everyday reality that much more indelible«.
Poems from his new, forthcoming book, »Deaf Republic«, have received »Poetry« magazine’s Levinson Prize and Pushcart Prize. His books of poetry have been translated into numerous languages and published in Turkey, Netherlands, France, Mexico, Macedonia, Romania, Spain and China, where his poetry was awarded the Yinchuan International Poetry Prize. Recently, he was also on the shortlist for the Neustadt International Literature Prize.
In 2010, Kaminsky was co-editor of the »Ecco Anthology of International Poetry«. He is also editor-in-chief of »Poetry International« and head of the Harriet Monroe Poetry Institute in Chicago. He is a translator of works from Russian into EnglishKaminsky has worked at the National Immigration Law Center and at Bay Area Legal Aid, two institutions devoted to fostering a more just society and providing tangible help to orphans. He currently works as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for Orphaned Children in Southern California. He teaches English and comparative literature at San Diego State University. He lives in San Diego, USA.