Rick Barot, the author of "Bonnard's Garden," was born in the Philippines but grew up near San Francisco, California. He attended Wesleyan University, in Connecticut; the coveted Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa; and Stanford University, in California. Upon graduating, he began teaching poetry at Stanford, where he was a Wallace E. Stegner fellow. He next moved to the Pacific Northwest; in the early 2000s, he was working as an assistant professor of English at Pacific Lutheran University, in Tacoma, Washington.
When he first started college, Barot thought that he wanted to become a lawyer. Although he had been encouraged by teachers to follow a writing career, he thought that he needed to tackle something more academically challenging; passing English classes had always been easy, but he did not see that as a reason to make writing his life's work. However, in taking several literature classes as an undergraduate, he started to recognize an underlying passion. After he received encouragement from the author Annie Dillard, who taught one of his English classes, Barot finally took his first poetry-writing class, during his senior year. In graduate school, he began writing some of the poems that eventually were published in his first poetry collection, The Darker Fall, which contains "Bonnard's Garden."
In 2001, Barot received a poetry fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. The next year, The Darker Fall was published and won the Kathryn A. Morton Prize in poetry. Barot noted in an interview with Craig Beaven for the online literary journal Blackbird that writing The Darker Fall was like an apprenticeship for him: through the writing of the poems collected in that book, he learned the art of poetry. As of early 2006, Barot was working on a second poetry collection, which was to have an overall theme based on the mythological character Echo, who loved the sound of her own voice.