On June 7, 1924, Edward Field was born in Brooklyn, New York. He grew up on Long Island, where he played cello in the Field Family Trio over radio station WGBB. During World War II, he flew twenty-five missions over Europe. After a short time at New York University, where he first met Alfred Chester. He travelled to Europe in 1946 and focused seriously on his writing; he returned to the United States in 1948.
In 1956, after brief stints working in a warehouse, in art production, as a machinist, and as a clerk-typist, Field began studying acting with Russian émigré Vera Soloviova of the Moscow Art Theatre. He applied the techniques he learned to reading poetry in public, and was able to support himself in this way throughout the 1960s and 1970s.
Field has taught workshops at the Poetry Center of the YMHA, Sarah Lawrence, and other colleges. His books of poetry include After The Fall: Poems Old and New (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2007); Magic Words: Poems (Harcourt, 1997); Counting Myself Lucky: Selected Poems 1963-1992 (1992); New and Selected Poems from the Book of My Life (1987); A Full Heart (1977), nominated for the Lenore Marshall Prize; and Stand Up, Friend, with Me (1963), which was the 1962 Lamont Poetry Selection of The Academy of American Poets.
Field has edited anthologies of poetry, translated Eskimo songs and stories, and written the narration for the documentary film To Be Alive, which won an Academy Award for best documentary short subject in 1965. He is the editor of The Alfred Chester Newsletter and has prepared several volumes of Chester's work for Black Sparrow Press. Field has also collaborated on several popular novels with Neil Derrick, under the joint pseudonym of Bruce Elliot. Although Field makes regular trips to Europe, his permanent residence is in New York City.