Affonso Romano de Sant'Anna, son of Jorge Firmino de Sant'Anna and Maria Romano de Sant'Anna, was born in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, on March 27, 1937. He married Marina Colasanti, writer and journalist with whom he had two daughters, Fabiana and Alessandra. He studied at the College of Liberal Arts in Belo Horizonte, lectured at PUC (the Catholic University) Rio de Janeiro, and at UFRJ (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro).

In 1965 he taught Brazilian Literature at UCLA. Upon his return to Brazil, he worked at the Jornal do Brasil but very quickly returned to the USA where he received a scholarship, the International Writing Program, from the city of Iowa.

In 1969 he presented his doctoral thesis which was published in 1972 under the title Carlos Drummond de Andrade, O Poeta Gauche, no tempo e no espaço.

1973–1976 – was the director of the College of Liberal Arts at PUC / Rio de Janeiro.

In 1977 he lectures Brazilian Literature at the University of Texas.

In 1978, he was the Professor of Literature at the University of Köln, Germany.

In 1981 and 1982 was a visiting professor at the Sorbonne, Paris, France.

From 1984 to 1990 he wrote a column for the Jornal do Brasil which previously had been written by Carlos Drummond de Andrade.

From 1990 to 1996 he was President of the Fundação Biblioteca Nacional, (Nationa Library Foundation) where he created a National System of Libraries, which unites 3000 institutions, and the PROLER (Program for the promotion of reading).

In 1993 he began the magazine Poesia Sempre and organized special editions dedicated to Latin America, Portugal, Spain, Italy, France, and Germany. In the 80's he frequently participated in international festivals of poetry: Medellin, Bogotá, Caracas, Mexico, Buenos Aires, Santiago de Chile and Ireland.

His most recent publication is A Grande Fala e Catedral de Colonia. (commemorative edition), by Rocco Editora(1998)