Packard was born September 2, 1933 and was raised in New York. A graduate of Stanford University, where he earned a degree in Philosophy and studied under the poet and critic Yvor Winters, Packard was a presence in the literary circles of the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1950s and 60's ... circles that included Allen Ginsberg, Kenneth Patchen, and Kenneth Rexroth. Packard was most active, however, in New York City, where he lived and wrote for more than half his life.
While in New York, Packard hosted the 92nd Street Y’s poetry reading series, was Vice President of the Poetry Society of America, and was co-director of the Hofstra Writers Conference for seven years. In 1957 he was awarded a Frost Fellowship and, in 1980, was honored with a reception at the White House for distinguished American poets.
Packard's literary career spanned nearly 50 years and resulted in the publication of six volumes of poetry, including "To Peel an Apple," "First Selected Poems," "Voices/I hear/voices," and "Collected Poems." His novel, "Saturday Night at San Marcos," was heralded as "a bawdy, irreverent send-up of the literary scene." His translation of Racine’s "Phedre," for which he was awarded the Outer Critic’s Circle Award, is the only English rendering to date to have maintained the original’s rhymed Alexandrine couplets, and was produced Off-Broadway with Beatrice Straight and Mildred Dunnock. His plays include "The Killer Thing," directed by Otto Preminger, "Sandra and the Janitor," produced at the HB Playwrights Foundation, "The Funeral," "The Marriage," and "War Play," produced and directed by Gene Frankel. Three collections of Mr. Packard’s one-act plays, "Psychopathology of Everyday Life," "Threesome," and "Behind the Eyes," were recently produced in New York. He was the great-grandson of Evangelist Dwight L. Moody and wrote the non-fiction book "Evangelism in America: From Tents to TV."
Beginning in 1965, when he inherited from Louise Bogan the poetry writing classes at New York University’s Washington Square Writing Center, Packard taught poetry and literature at NYU, Wagner, The New School, Cooper Union, The Bank Street Theatre, and Hofstra, as well as acting, and playwriting at the HB Studio in Manhattan. He is the author of the textbooks "The Art of the Playwright," "The Art of Screenwriting," "The Poet’s Dictionary," "The Art of Poetry Writing," and "The Poet’s Craft: Interviews from the New York Quarterly."
For his work with the New York Quarterly (NYQ), which he founded in 1969, Packard was called "one of the great editor of our time" by poet and novelist James Dickey. Cited by Rolling Stone as "the most important poetry magazine in America," the New York Quarterly earned a reputation for excellence by publishing poems and interviews with the prominent poets W. H. Auden, John Ashbery, Paul Blackburn, Richard Eberhart, Stanley Kunitz, Anne Sexton, Charles Bukowski, and W.S. Merwin, among many others. In fact, NYQ has, in its thirty-year career, published virtually every important poet in the nation. But the magazine is equally acclaimed for supporting the work of lesser-known poets. The poet Galway Kinnell once said of the magazine, "The New York Quarterly serves an invaluable function ... and that is finding and publishing wonderful talents ... such as Franz Douskey, Antler, Pennant, Lifshin, Inez, Moriarty ... who may not have the recognition that their work so richly deserves."
The New York Quarterly temporarily suspended publication when Packard suffered a stroke, but returned to print shortly before his death.