Sadoff was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Russian Jewish immigrants. He earned a B.A. (1966) from Cornell University in industrial and labor relations and an M.F.A. (1968) from the University of Oregon. He has taught at colleges and universities including the University of Virginia, the Iowa Writer's Workshop and the M.F.A. program at Warren Wilson College. He is currently the Arthur Jeremiah Roberts Professor of Literature at Colby College in Waterville, Maine.
Sadoff is the author of seven volumes of poetry, most recently Barter (2003) and Grazing (1998). Over three hundred of his poems, thirty short stories and a number of essays have appeared in major literary magazines, including The New Yorker, The American Poetry Review, The Paris Review, The Nation, The New Republic, Esquire, Antaeus, The Hudson Review, and The Partisan Review. Poems in Grazing have been awarded the Leonard Shestack Prize, the Pushcart Poetry Prize, and the George Bogin Memorial Prize from the Poetry Society of America. He has received Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Sadoff has characterized himself as "one poet among a decreasing minority who is trying to resist the return to formalism, the sterile, conservative, aesthete academicism of the nineteen-fifties."
His new book, History Matters: Contemporary Poetry on the Margins of American Culture, a collection of his critical work, was released on March 2, 2009 by the University of Iowa Press.