I was born in 1938 in Oakland, California, specifically East Oakland. Despite fellow Oakland-born Gertrude Stein's disavowal to the effect that in Oakland there is no there there--I feel that I was born in Oakland when there was a there to be there for. Three houses down from where we lived was where the workers in the shipyards had parked their trailers. I made friends with the kids that lived there, and met their parents who'd left Oklahoma and the dust for a chance at a better life. We grew up playing and fighting, for in this part of town a word could be a punch in the mouth, and a challenge could be met with a knife.
Reading poetry at home with library books or in school interested me so much that I began to write it. Then to study it. Once it got into my blood I was hooked so deeply I've never stopped. During the late 1950s I was a US Navy medical corpsman. Upon discharge I entered college where, in 1965, I graduated with a degree in English Lit. from UC Berkeley. At that time I was not interested in the academic world, so I returned to my beloved streets.
I have been and am a person of the street. I've worked in canneries, been a newspaper sports writer and done social work in Oakland and New York City. I love adventure: parachuting, scuba diving, motorcycle racing, and lovely ladies though in my seventieth year much is just fond memory. The most beautiful and strange experience of my life was the birth of my daughter when I was 45. Every time I look at her picture when I'm feeling blue I am re-energized.