Born in 1945 in Lvov (now in Ukraine).  Grew up in Gliwice, Poland. In 1963 moved to Krakow where he studied at the Jagiellonian University. In the late seventies was an active dissident and took part in the oppositional literary movement. In 1979 was offered a fellowship by the International Kunstlerprogramm and spent two years in West Berlin. Since late 1982 had lived in Paris. In 2002 returned to Krakow where he still lives. In Paris he joined the editorial board of the exile literary magazine “Zeszyty Literackie”. In the spring of 1988 began to teach a semester a year at the University of Houston Creative Writing Program. In 2007 became a member of the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago where he taught literature one quarter a year until 2013.

Received numerous international prizes; among others the Neustadt International Prize in Literature in 2004,  Zhongkun International Poetry Prize (Beijing, 2013), the Princess of Asturias Prize in Literature, 2017.

Poetry: Communiqué (Komunikat, 1972); Meat Shops (Sklepy mięsne, 1975); Letter. Ode to Multiplicity (List. Oda do wielości, 1982); To go to Lvov (Jechać do Lwowa, 1985); Canvas (Płótno, 1990); Fiery Land (Ziemia ognista, 1994); Desire (Pragnienie, 1999); Return (Powrót, 2003); Antennas (Anteny, 2005); Invisible Hand (Niewidzialna ręka, 2009); Asymmetry (Asymetria, 2014).

 Prose—Essays: The Unrepresented World (Świat nie przedstawiony) (coauthor: Julian Kornhauser, 1974); Second Wind (Drugi oddech, 1978); Solidarity and Solitude (Solidarność i samotność, 1986); Two Cities (Dwa miasta, 1991); In the Beauty of Others (W cudzym pięknie, 1998); In defence of Fervour (Obrona żarliwości, 2002); The Poet Talks to the Philospher (Poeta rozmawia z filozofem, 2007); Slight Exaggeration (Lekka przesada, 2011); Poetry for Beginners (Poezja dla początkujących, 2017).