Stephen Meats was born in LeRoy, Kansas, and raised in Concordia. He attended Kansas State University before transferring to the University of South Carolina in 1965 where he earned his bachelor’s (1966), master’s (1968), and doctoral degree in English (1972). He taught at the Air Force Academy and the University of Tampa before coming to Pittsburg State University in 1979. At the University of Tampa he served as Chair of the Humanities Division (1974-1979), and at Pittsburg State as Chair of the English Department (1979-1985, 1990-2009) and as Interim Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences (1983, 2009-2011). He retired in 2014.
He served as poetry editor of The Midwest Quarterly for thirty-one years, beginning in 1985. After his retirement in 2016 the editorial board established the Stephen Meats Poetry Prize to be awarded to the best poem published in the journal each year.