A twentieth-century Congolese author, he is best known for his surrealist poetry. His works include La veste d'intérieur suivi de Notes de veille, Les Cancrelats, and Mauvais Sang.
He worked as a journalist in France before accepting a position at UNESCO in 1961.
The Tchicaya U Tam'si Award, a prize for African poetry, was established in his honor in 1989.
He was born to a Congolese family in Mpili, and he spent most of his early life in France.
He and Maya Angelou both became famous for their poetry.