An American novelist and poet known for his literary use of colloquial language and everyday images, he is most famous for works such as The Undersea Mountain, Karma Circuit, and The Dancing Beasts. He was an American expatriate and a member of the Beat Generation.
He graduated from Brooklyn College in 1938. He published his first poetry collection, The Undersea Mountain, in 1953.
He lived and wrote in Italy for five years.
He was born to an unmarried Lithuanian Jewish woman in Brooklyn, New York.
He was friends with Allen Ginsberg and several other Beat writers.