Hejinian was born in the San Francisco Bay Area and now lives in Berkeley, California with her husband, composer/musician Larry Ochs. She has published over a dozen books of poetry and numerous books of essays as well as two volumes of translations from the Russian poet Arkadii Dragomoshchenko. Between 1976 and 1984 she was editor of Tuumba Press, and from 1981 to 1999 she co-edited (with Barrett Watten) Poetics Journal. She is currently co-editor of Atelos, which publishes cross-genre collaborations between poets and other artists.
Hejinian has worked on a number of collaborative projects with painters, musicians and film makers. She teaches poetics at University of California, Berkeley, and has lectured in Russia and around Europe. She has received grants and awards from the California Arts Council, the Academy of American Poets, the Poetry Fund, the National Endowment of the Arts, Guggenheim Foundation.
She currently sponsors the NBC Thursday Night DeCal course at UC Berkeley.