On February 12, 1923, Alan Dugan was born in Brooklyn, New York, and grew up in Jamaica, Queens. He began his undergraduate education at Queens College in 1941, but after two years he was drafted into the Army Air Forces. He resumed his studies at Olivet College and received a BA from Mexico City College in 1949. For the next ten years, Dugan held various jobs in advertising, publishing and medical supply in New York City while he began his career as a poet.
Dugan's volumes of poetry include Poems Seven: New and Complete Poetry (Seven Stories Press, 2001), winner of the National Book Award; Poems Six (1989); Poems Five: New and Collected Poems (1983), Poems 4 (1974); Collected Poems (1969); Poems 3 (1967); Poems 2 (1963); and Poems (1961), selected for the Yale Series of Younger Poets and winner of the National Book Award and a Pulitzer Prize. He has also received the Levinson Award from Poetry magazine, the Prix de Rome from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation.
Dugan was a member of the faculty of the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and lived in Truro. He died of pneumonia on September 3, 2003.