Poet and fiction writer known for River of Earth, a novel set in a Kentucky coal mining town. His other works include The Wolfpen Poems, Chinaberry, and On Troublesome Creek.
He attended Vanderbilt University and the University of Illinois. He published his first literary work, Hounds on the Mountain, in 1937.
He worked for a time as a Bible salesman and a Texas cotton-picker.
He and his nine siblings grew up on a farm in Alabama.
He shared a Southern Author's Award with Thomas Wolfe.