Tom Sexton was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, where he grew up along the Concord River. After graduating from Lowell High School in 1958, he served three years in the Army, most the time based in Alaska. He returned to New England and studied at Northern Essex Community College and Salem State College, both in Massachusetts. He earned a bachelor’s degree in English at Salem and enrolled in graduate school at the University of Alaska, where he received a Master of Fine Arts degree. He was a member of the English Department at the Anchorage campus of the University of Alaska from 1970 to 1994, teaching literature and creative writing courses. He helped start the creative writing program and was an original editor of the highly regarded Alaska Quarterly Review.
After his retirement, he was appointed Poet Laureate of Alaska, a selection by the Alaska State Council on the Arts and state legislature, serving from 1995 to 2000. In 2006, he was named one of the Distinguished Alumni of Lowell High School.
He is the author of many books of poetry, including A Clock with No Hands, For the Sake of Light: New and Selected Poems, and I Think Again of Those Ancient Chinese Poets. Tom and his wife, Sharyn, divide their time between the Pacific Rim in Alaska and the coast of Maine.