Joseph Auslander was born on October 11, 1897, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He received a BA from Harvard University in 1917, and in 1924 he received a Parker Fellowship to study at the Sorbonne. That same year, he published his first book of poetry, Sunrise Trumpets (Harper & Brothers, 1924).
Auslander was also the author of the poetry collections Riders at the Gate (Macmillan, 1938), Letters to Women (Harper & Brothers, 1929), and Cyclops’ Eye (Harper & Brothers, 1926), among others. Known for his war poetry, he collaborated with his wife, the poet Audrey Wurdemann, to write The Unconquerables: Salutes to the Undying Spirit of the Nazi-Occupied Countries (Simon and Schuster, 1943). This collection is thought to have encouraged participation in the War Loan drives during World War II.
Auslander and Wurdemann also coauthored two novels, The Islanders (Longmans, Green and Co., 1951) and My Uncle Jan (Longmans, Green and Co., 1948). With Frank Ernest Hill, Auslander wrote The Winged Horse: The Story of the Poets and their Poetry (Doubleday, 1927).
After serving as a lecturer in poetry at Columbia University from 1929 to 1937, Auslander was appointed the first consultant in poetry to the Library of Congress on July 7, 1937. He served in this newly defined role until 1941, when Archibald MacLeish, the Librarian of Congress, established a term limit.
Auslander was the recipient of the Robert Frost Award, given by the Poetry Society of America, and the Royal Saint Olav Medal, given by the king of Norway. He died of a heart attack on June 22, 1965, in Coral Gables, Florida.