John Knight was born in Bendigo but moved with his family to his mother's native New Zealand in 1938. Knight's father was an evangelist and the family travelled the North Island while Mr Knight ran tent missions. In 1946 they returned to Australia, settling in Queensland. Knight attended two years of high school and then taught in schools in Queensland and New South Wales. He later studied theology at Avondale College and then completed a doctorate in the sociology of education and religion at the Mt Gravatt College of Advanced Education. From 1983 until his retirement Knight was an Associate Professor in the Graduate School of Education, University of Queensland.
Knight's verse has been published in a number of little journals and books in Australia and New Zealand. He was a founding member of the Brisbane haiku group Paper Wasp and editor (poetry, review and short story) for Social Alternatives. He founded Post Pressed, a small press publisher of verse, fine arts and academic books.