Yenser graduated from the University of Wisconsin, studying with James Merrill in 1967 on one of the rare occasions when the poet taught. Merrill dedicated to Yenser his final, posthumous collection, A Scattering of Salts (1995).
Paul N. Courant, Ann Kjellberg, J. D. McClatchy, Edward Mendelson, Margo Viscusi, Tappan Wilder, Stephen Yenser (March 26, 2009). "Google & Books: An Exchange". The New York Review of Books56 (5).
About Yenser's work, the poet Alan Williamson has said, "Stephen Yenser combines two qualities rarely found together: an extraordinary gift for verbal play and a bedrock seriousness about the emotional aims of poetry. Consequently he can do things almost no one else can: a poem reproducing the modulations of music; a poem in a dead poet's style that becomes uniquely his own, through its meditation on intersubjectivity and immortality."