Poet and visual artist Ray DiPalma was born in New Kensington, Pennsylvania. He earned his BA at Duquesne University and his MFA at the Iowa Writers Workshop. As a co-author of L E G E N D (L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E/Segue, 1980) with Bruce Andrews, Charles Bernstein, Ron Silliman, and Steve McCaffery, he is often associated with the Language school of poets. Silliman has written that DiPalma's poems “are not nearly so much objects as they are environments, lush worlds, sensual & crowded. You enter them & can wander endlessly – tho in fact his scale is mostly ... quite contained. It’s a world we should all visit often.”

DiPalma published over 30 books of poetry, translations, and graphic work with small presses, including the later collections House of Keys (Longhouse, 2010), The Ancient Use of Stone: Journals and Daybooks 1998-2008 (Otis Books / Seismicity Editions, 2009), Pensieri (Echo Park Press, 2009), and Further Apocrypha (Pie in the Sky Press, 2009). Among his earlier collections are Numbers and Tempers: Selected Early Poems, 1966-1986 (1993), Le Tombeau de Reverdy (1997), Provocations (1994), Hôtel des Ruines (1993), and Planh (1979). His visual work was collected by and displayed at many galleries and museums, including the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and the Art Institute of Chicago. He received awards and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the Fund for Poetry.

DiPalma lived in New York City and taught at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan. His correspondence, manuscripts, and printed materials are held at Yale University's Beinecke Library.