Ted Pearson was born in 1948 in Palo Alto, California. He began studying music in 1960 (voice, then woodwinds and composition) and started writing poetry in 1964. He subsequently attended Vandercook College of Music, Foothill College, and San Francisco State University. Since leaving the Bay Area in 1988, he has lived in Ithaca, Buffalo, and Detroit. He now lives in Southern California, where he is adjunct faculty in English at the University of Redlands.
Pearson has published sixteen books and chapbooks of poetry, including Evidence: 1975–1989 (Gaz, 1989), Planetary Gear (Roof Books, 1991), Songs Aside: 1992–2002 (Past Tents Press, 2003), and Encryptions (Singing Horse Press, 2007). He is also a coauthor of The Grand Piano (Mode A, 2006–2010), a ten-volume experiment in collective autobiography by writers associated with the San Francisco Language Poets. He has coedited several books and journals, including markszine.net, and his essays have been widely published, notably in Poetics Journal.