Madeline Gleason was born in Fargo, North Dakota on January 26, 1903. She moved to San Francisco, California in the 1930s where she worked for the Works Progress Administration's Federal Writers' Project and founded the San Francisco Poetry Guild and poetry festivals. Along with other LGBTQ poets including Robert Duncan and Jack Spicer, she was a part of what became known as the San Francisco Literary Renaissance.
She is the author of several collections of poetry, including Poems (1944), Concerto for Bell and Telephone (Unicorn Press, 1966), Here Comes Everybody: New & Selected Poems (Panjandrum Press, 1975), and Collected Poems: 1919–1979 (Talisman Collected American Poets, 1999).
Gleason died in San Francisco, California on April 22, 1979.