Richard Michelson was born on July 3, 1953, in Brooklyn, New York. He grew up in East New York, a neighborhood whose racial population would dramatically shift in the years when he lived there—a topic Michelson explores in his writing.
When Michelson was nineteen, he got a job traveling the country selling fine art reproductions. He toured the Midwest for three years, during which time he engaged more with art and literature. He then started his own small art gallery in 1976. In 1979, he settled in Northampton, Massachusetts, where he started R.Michelson Galleries, which he continues to run today.
Michelson is the author of four poetry collections: More Money than God (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015), Battles & Lullabies (University of Illinois Press, 2006), Masks (The Gehenna Press, 1999), and Tap Dancing for the Relatives (University of Central Florida Press, 1985). In addition to his poetry collections, Michelson has also published over a dozen award-winning children’s books.
In his review of More Money than God, Martín Espada writes, “Some poets wrestle with ghosts. Richard Michelson invites them to sit at the kitchen table, crack jokes, give advice, live and die all over again. By turns philosophical, political, tender, outraged, and funny as hell, Richard Michelson is a poet to remember.”
Michelson is the host of Northampton Poetry Radio and the former poet laureate of Northampton.