An Indiana-born author and editor, he is best known for his U.S. National Book Award-winning translation of Cesar Vallejo's poetry. His original works include Hotel Cro-Magnon (1989) and Companion Spider: Essays (2010).
He was the founder and editor of two highly regarded literary magazines: Caterpillar (from 1967 until 1973) and Sulfur (from 1981 until 2000).
He was named Professor Emeritus at Eastern Michigan University.
He married Caryl Clayton in 1961. He and his wife lived in Italy for a time, and he took side trips to France to study cave art.
He was influenced by the work of Franz Kafka.