Charles was born and raised in Iowa. He received his BA from the University of Iowa and was a member of the Undergraduate Writer's Workshop. He received an MFA in poetry from the University of Oregon. He has had a lengthy career outside of academia which includes newspaper editor, community organizer (VISTA and Peace Corps), poet-in-the-schools, language school principal (Colombia) and owner/operator of student travel company in Venice, California. Charles has work published in a number of journals including New Letters, The Massachusetts Review, The Northwest Review, and The Sou'wester to mention a few.