An American poet and novelist, he is most famous for poetry collections such as Concurring Beasts and Black Dog, Red Dog. His 1985 novel, Cold Dog Soup, was adapted into two films.
After graduating from the renowned Iowa Writers' Workshop, he taught at Boston University, Syracuse University, and Warren Wilson College, among other schools.
His 1984 poetry collection, Black Dog, Red Dog, won the National Poetry Series award.
He was born in New Jersey, and he grew up in Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.
He and Bradley Walker Tomlin both taught at Sarah Lawrence College.