Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, William Hengst has lived most of his adult life in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He earned a B.A. degree from Dartmouth College in 1961, and later a Ph.D. degree from the University of Pennsylvania.  After working 25 years as a city planner, he changed careers to free-lance journalism, creative writing, and gardening which he has pursued since.

He writes both poetry and short stories.  One of his stories received an honorable mention award in 2011 from Glimmer Train magazine. His poems have appeared in over a dozen journals, and published in two books – Runaway Freight and Yard Man.