David Macleod Black was born in South Africa, brought up in Scotland. He has published six collections of poetry and also a volume of translations of Goethe. A selection of his early work appeared in the Penguin Modern Poets series in 1968. In the 1990s he translated a number of Goethe's poems, including the 'Roman Elegies', and together with Robert Chandler, Elizabeth Cook, Martha Kapos, Robin Leanse and Carole Satyamurti, he was one of a group of poets who met each month to discuss each other's work. The composition of this group has varied over the years: Satyamurti and Leanse left, Christopher Reid was a member for a time, but the group still continues and Black has described it as invaluable.
From 1998 to 2008 he was a frequent book-reviewer for Poetry London. Love as Landscape Painter, his translations of Goethe, appeared in 2007; Claiming Kindred, appeared in 2011.
He has also published papers on literary and psychoanalytic themes. In 2006 he edited Psychoanalysis and Religion in the 21st Century: Competitors or Collaborators? (New Library of Psychoanalysis), and in 2011 he published a collection of essays on values, under the title Why Things Matter: the place of values in science, psychoanalysis and religion (Routledge).