She grew up in Kent, and lived in North America, Singapore and Uganda.She taught at the University of East London, and at the Tavistock Clinic where her main interest was relating psycholanalytic ideas to the stories people tell about themselves whether in formal autobiography or everyday encounters.
She teaches for the Arvon Foundation and for the Poetry School. She is vice-president of Ver Poets.
She runs poetry programs in Venice, Corfu, and the National Gallery , with Gregory Warren Wilson.
She has been writer in residence at the University of Sussex, and the College of Charleston.