Ilya Kaminsky was born in Odessa, former Soviet Union in 1977, and moved to the United States in 1993, when his family was granted asylum by the American government. He is the author of two books of poems in English, Deaf Republic (2019) and Dancing In Odessa (2004), and the poetry chapbook Musica Humana (2002). He has also co-edited and co-translated many other books, including The Ecco Anthology of International Poetry (2010). His own poems have been translated in over twenty 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.

In addition, Kaminsky has worked as a law clerk for San Francisco Legal Aid and the National Immigration Law Center. He currently works as the Court Appointed Special Advocate for Orphaned Children in Southern California and holds the Bourne Chair in Poetry at Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Georgia.