Christopher Gilbert was born in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1949 and grew up in Lansing, Michigan. The fourth of six children, he worked in General Motors assembly plants during summer vacations, where his parents and several of his sibling worked. Gilbert received a BA in psychology from the University of Michigan in 1972 and an MA in psychology from Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1975.
His first poetry collection, Across the Mutual Landscape, was chosen by Michael S. Harper for the Walt Whitman Award in 1983 and published by Graywolf Press the next year. Turning into Dwelling, a collection that includes both Gilbert's debut and a second manuscript, was posthumously published in 2015 as part of the Graywolf Poetry Re/View Series, edited by Mark Doty.
Of his poetry, Doty writes: "No one else sounds quite like Christopher Gilbert...His voice feels timeless in its immediacy, and the poems startle in their almost uncanny ability to grant readers access to a mind at work."
Gilbert received fellowships from the Massachusetts Artists Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. He also served as Poet in Residence at the Robert Frost Place in Franconia, New Hampshire, in 1986. He taught writing classes at Goddard College, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, the University of Pittsburgh, Trinity College, and Clark University.
During his life, Gilbert worked as a psychotherapist in a variety of settings in Massachusetts, including the University of Massachusetts Medical School Counseling Center, the Judge Baker Guidance Center, and Cambridge Family and Children's Service. He also taught psychology at Bristol Community College in Fall River, Massachusetts, from 1993 until his death in 2007.
Turning into Dwelling (Graywolf Press, 2015)
Across the Mutual Landscape (Graywolf Press, 1984)