Salisbury writes from a perspective that he defines as “not part Indian, part white, but wholly both.” He is an opponent of the Korean War, Vietnam War, and war in Iraq, and anti-war and pacifist beliefs run throughout his poetry. Other subjects include his childhood in rural Iowa during the Depression, ecology, and the fellowship of humanity.
Well regarded across genres, Salisbury has also published collections of short stories, including The Last Rattlesnake Throw and Other Stories (1998) and The Indian Who Bombed Berlin and Other Stories (2009). Among his many awards, he has received a Rockefeller Foundation Residency in Bellagio, Italy, for his fiction. He was a Fulbright professor in Norway, where he co-translated the Finnish Sami poet Nils-Aslak Valkeapää’s collections The Trekways of the Wind (1994) and The Sun My Father (1997). He has also held a Fulbright professorship in Germany and an Amparts Lectureship in India. A professor emeritus at the University of Oregon, he was editor of the Northwest Review from 1965 to 1970.
Salisbury is married to the poet and writer Ingrid Wendt.