He also published a novel, Black Light; a selection of interviews, Walking Down the Stairs; and a book for children, as well as translations of works by Yves Bonnefoy, Yvan Goll, Francois Villon and Rainer Maria Rilke.
Born in Providence, Rhode Island, he was raised in Pawtucket, graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University, and got a Masters degree at the University of Rochester.
He was the director of the adult education program at the University of Chicago’s Downtown Center, a teacher and journalist in Iran, and a field worker for the Congress of Racial Equality in Louisiana. He subsequently taught poetry at many colleges in this country and abroad.
A former MacArthur Fellow and State Poet of Vermont, he was a Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets. In 1982, his Selected Poems won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, and in 2002, he was awarded the Frost Medal by the Poetry Society of America.
He taught for many years at New York University, where he was Erich Maria Remarque Professor of Creative Writing. After retiring from NYU, he lived in northern Vermont until his death on October 28, 2014.