An American author, he is best known for his 1966 novel, Been Down So Long it Looks Like Up To Me, which was based on his college experiences. He also had a career as a folk singer.
He dropped out of Cornell University shortly before his graduation. While at Cornell, he published stories in Mademoiselle and the Transatlantic Review.
A noted folk singer, he sang such protest songs as Birmingham Sunday and Pack Up Your Sorrows.
He was born in Brooklyn, New York. His young widow, Mimi Baez, helped compile a collection of his poetry and short stories after his death; the work was called Long Time Coming and a Long Time Gone.
He was producing an album for singer Joan Baez, his sister-in-law, when he was killed in a motorcycle accident at the age of twenty-nine.