was born in Montréal, Québec, the son of Holocaust survivors. He has worked in a myriad of jobs, including grocery store wrapper, lathe operator in a steel plant, taxi driver, hospital orderly, insurance appraiser, health clinic administrator, commercial and literary translator, and post-secondary teacher.
In his youth, he was active in political theatre, anti-war activism, community and revolutionary organization, and support for the underground democratic forces in the Philippines.
In 1986, he obtained an MA in English Literature from Concordia University, where he subsequently taught creative writing. From 2000 to 2002, he lived and studied Chinese in Beijing, China, and from 2006 to 2013, he laboured as an associate professor in English literature and creative writing at the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada. He now lives on Vancouver Island in British Columbia.