Paul Carroll was born on July 15, 1927, in Chicago, Illinois. After serving in the United States Navy, he received a BA from the University of Chicago in 1948 and an MA in 1952.
He wrote several books of poetry, including The Beaver Dam Road Poems (Big Table Publishing, 1994), New and Selected Poems (Yellow Press, 1978), and Odes (Big Table Publishing, 1969). He also published several anthologies, including The Young American Poets (Big Table Publishing, 1968), and a work of literary analysis, The Poem in Its Skin (Follett Publishing, 1968).
Carroll is also known for his involvement in the Chicago poetry community and his championing of the Beat poets and other new and unique voices in poetry. With Irving Rosenthal, he coedited the Chicago Review from 1957 to 1959, and he cofounded Big Table in 1958. In 1965, he cofounded Big Table Publishing Company with Philip O’Hara, Frank O’Hara’s brother.
In 1974 Carroll founded The Poetry Center in Chicago and the Program for Writers at the University of Illinois–Chicago, where he taught from 1969 to 1992. He also hosted a radio show called “The Name and Nature of Poetry” from 1974 to 1982. In 1985 he received the Chicago Poets Award from the city’s Office of Fine Arts.Carroll married Maryrose Carroll, a sculptor, in 1977. He died on August 31, 1996, on a farm near Vilas, North Carolina.