Jose Ma. Sison was born on February 8, 1939 in Cabugao, Ilocos Norte. He graduated from UP with an AB English, cum laude , in 1959. He taught English and political science in UP and other universities, served as writer/consultant with some members of Congress, and read papers at international conferences. A prolific writer and propagandist, he contributed articles to such journals as the London-basedEastern World and Hongkong-based Eastern Horizon . He edited a number of progressive publications, and wrote Struggle for National Democracy (1967), a collection of essays on Philippine politics, economics and culture.

Sison is probably best known as the founder of Kabataang Makabayan , a militant group of which he was Chairman from 1964 to 1968. From November 10, 1977 to his release after the EDSA Revolution in February 1986, Sison was a political prisoner in solitary confinement. Later, he went into exile in Holland. He received the SEA Write Award in 1986. His poems have been collected in Brothers and Other Poems (1961) and Prison and Beyond / Selected Poems 1958-1983 (1984).