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Ron Silliman Portrait

Born in Pasco, Washington, Ron Silliman grew up in Albany, California, just north of Berkeley. He was educated at Merritt College, San Francisco State University, and the University of California at Berkeley. He has worked as an organizer in prisoner and tenant movements, as well as a lobbyist, teacher, and college administrator. In the 1970s, he first edited Labyrinth for the Committee for Prisoner Humanity and Justice and then edited the Tenderloin Times for San Francisco's Central City Hospital House. For several years he was executive editor of Socialist Review and since then has worked in the computer industry in Pennsylvania as a marketing communications specialist. A leading poet and theorist of the Language poetry movement, author of the theoretical work The New Sentence (1987) and editor of the movement's most ambitious anthology, In the American Tree (1986), he has often used formal experiments to help us see how language functions as an autonomous system and shapes our understanding of the world. Silliman's work is also notable for its humor, its social conscience, and for its interest in the relationship between ordinary experience and narrativity.