Esenin-Volpin was born 12 may 1924 in Leningrad. His mother was a poet and translator Nadezhda Volpin. In 1933 he and his mother moved to Moscow, where he graduated from MSU, and then went to work in Chernivtsi.

In 1949 Esenin-Volpin was first placed in a psychiatric hospital for anti-Soviet poetry. Then he was sent to Kaliningrad. In 1953 he was pardoned, but five years later, Yesenin-Volpin again came to a mental institution.

In 1965 Esenin-Volpin organized a "meeting of publicity", whose participants demanded a public trial of Andrei Sinyavsky and Yuli Daniel and respect for the Constitution.

In 1968, Esenin-Volpin was again admitted to a psychiatric hospital. After leaving the hospital, he emigrated to the United States. Since 1989, the poet's son often came home.