Edgar Bowers was born on March 2, 1924, in Rome, Georgia, where his father ran a plant nursery. During World War II he served in Counter Intelligence, ending his military service in Berchtesgaden, Hitler's eyrie in the Bavarian Alps. The experiences of these years had a deep and permanent effect on his poetry. Upon his discharge in April 1946 he returned to the University of North Carolina and then finished his graduate studies with a PhD in English at Stanford University.
In 1956 Bowers published his first collection of poetry, The Form of Loss (A. Swallow). His other books of poetry are Collected Poems (Alfred A. Knopf, 1997); For Louis Pasteur (Princeton University Press, 1990), which won the Bollingen Prize for Poetry; Living Together (DRG Publishing, 1973); and The Astronomers (A. Swallow, 1965). Bowers, who received two Guggenheim Foundation fellowships, worked as a professor of English at the University of California, Santa Barbara, for most of his professional career. After retiring in 1991, he moved to San Francisco, where he lived until his death on February 4, 2000.