American poet and author known for Land of Amnesia, The Feast of All Saints, and other works. Also a college professor, he taught creative writing at North Carolina's Appalachian State University.
He studied at the University of Pittsburgh and, upon graduation, began working for the North Carolina prison service branch of the Volunteers In Service To America (VISTA) program.
He worked for the North Carolina Visiting Artist Program in the 1980s.
He grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He married Joan Bathanti, with whom he had two children.
In 2012 he became the Poet Laureate of North Carolina, a position that poet Fred Chappell had previously held.