Milton J. Bates earned a doctorate in English at the University of California-Berkeley and taught for thirty-five years, first at Williams College and then at Marquette University. He also held Fulbright lectureships at universities in Beijing and Madrid. Before turning to poetry he published nonfiction books about Wallace Stevens, the Vietnam War, and the Bark River valley in Wisconsin. He lives with his wife on the shore of Lake Superior in Marquette, Michigan.

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