Ilya Kaminsky was born in Odessa, former Soviet Union in 1977, and arrived in the United States in 1993 when his family was granted asylum by the American government. Kaminsky has worked as a law clerk for San Francisco Legal Aid and the National Immigration Law Center. Currently he teaches English and Comparative Literature at San Diego State University.
In 2008, Kaminsky was awarded Lannan Foundation's Literary Fellowship. His anthology of 20th century poetry in translation, Ecco Anthology of International Poetry, was published by Harper Collins in March 2010.