Jackson Mac Low was born in Chicago on September 12, 1922. He was a poet and composer, and a writer of performance pieces, essays, plays, and radio works. He was also a painter and multimedia performance artist, and often worked in collaboration with his wife, Anne Tardos. He is the author of twenty-six books, and his works have been published in many anthologies and periodicals as well as read publicly, exhibited, performed, and broadcast in North America, Europe, and New Zealand. Mac Low's publications include Two Plays: The Marrying Maiden and Verdurous Sanguinaria (Green Integer Books, 1999), 20 Forties (Zasterle Press, 1999), Barnesbook (1996), 42 Merzgedichte in Memoriam Kurt Schwitters (1994), Pieces o' Six: Thirty-three Poems in Prose (1992), and Twenties: 100 Poems (1991), as well as the compact disc Open Secrets (1993), comprising eight works performed by Anne Tardos, Mac Low, and seven instrumentalists.
Educated at the University of Chicago and Brooklyn College, he taught at many schools, notably the Mannes School of Music (1966) and New York University (1966-73). In has taught creative writing and lectured at SUNY-Albany, SUNY-Binghamton, Temple, UC-San Diego, Naropa Institute, Schule für Dichtung in Wien (Vienna), Bard College, and Brown University.
His awards include fellowships and grants from the Creative Artists Public Service Program, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, PEN, and the New York Foundation for the Arts. He received the the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets in 1999. Jackson Mac Low lived in New York City with his wife until his death on December 8, 2004.