A Jamaican-American author, she was known for works such as No Telephone to Heaven, Abeng, Free Enterprise and Bodies of Water. She also contributed to Home Girls, an anthology of feminist-themed works by writers of African descent.
After graduating from Wagner College and the University of London, she taught at both Trinity College and Emory University.
She was born in Kingston, Jamaica, and she moved to New York City with her family when she was three years old.
She lived with partner and fellow poet, Adrienne Rich, for many years.
She and Bob Beckel both attended Wagner College.