Ted Berrigan was born in Providence, Rhode Island, on November 15, 1934. He attended Providence College for a year before joining the army in 1954 at the age of 19. After serving in Korea he received a BA in English from the University of Tulsa in 1959 and an MA in 1962. Berrigan moved to New York in the early 1960s where he edited and published C Magazine and C Press Books, wrote art criticism, and collaborated with writers and artists Ron Padgett, Joe Brainard, and Anselm Hollo.
Berrigan taught at the St. Mark's Poetry Project and was writer-in-residence/visiting poet at the Writer's Workshop at the University of Iowa, the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Yale University, the State University of New York at Buffalo, University of Essex in England, Northeastern Illinois University, and the Naropa Institute. In 1979 he received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Berrigan was a central figure in the second generation of the New York School of Poets, which included Ron Padgett, Anne Waldman, Jim Carroll, and Anselm Hollo. He was the author of more than 20 books, including The Sonnets (1964), Bean Spasms (with Ron Padgett and Joe Brainard) (1967), Poems, In Brief (1971), Red Wagon (1976), and A Certain Slant of Sunlight (1988). Ted Berrigan died on July 4, 1983.