Robert Dana was born in Boston in 1929. After serving in the South Pacific at the end of World War II, he moved to Iowa where he attended Drake University and The University of Iowa Writers' Workshop.
His poetry has won several awards, including The Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award from New York University and two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships. He revived and edited The North American Review in the sixties and also operated The Hillside Press. Retired from teaching after forty years as Poet-in-Residence at Cornell College, he has also served as visiting writer at Stockholm and Beijing universities and at a number of American colleges and universities.
Dana was appointed Poet Laureate for the State of Iowa 2004 through 2008. He died in February, 2010, of pancreatic cancer.