In 1985, he inaugurated the Tasmanian Poetry Festival, which he directed until 2001 and which incorporates his invention, the Launceston Poetry Cup, a performance poetry concept now imitated all over Australia and internationally.
Thorne has been writer-in-residence with a number of organisations, including the Miscellaneous Workers Union and the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, and has worked as a poet in schools, universities and prisons.
He has been awarded a number of prizes, including Stanford Writing Scholarship, 1971; New Poetry Award, 1973; Marten Bequest Travelling Scholarship for poetry, 1978, and the Gleebooks Poetry Sprint, 1995. He won the Launceston Poetry Cup in 2006 and 2008 and was a finalist in the Australian National Poetry Slam in 2009 and 2010. He was awarded the William Baylebridge award for A Letter to Egon Kisch in 2007, the Christopher Brennan Award in 2013 and the Gwen Harwood Poetry Prize in 2014.
He has also received grants and fellowships from the Australia Council, Arts Tasmania and the Eleanor Dark Foundation.
Thorne has had an abiding interest in creating opportunities for poets and other artists with disabilities and from 1998 to 2000 he was National Secretary of DADAA (Disability and the Arts, Disadvantage and the Arts Australia). In 1999–2000, he was writer/co-ordinator for a national project for writers with cerebral palsy, conducted through Arts 'R' Access. In 2002, he was editor of the Launceston Longpoem, a web-based community writing project funded through Tasmanian Regional Arts.
He has also been active in campaigns for peace and environmental values. He was instrumental in establishing the Vietnam Moratorium protests in Launceston in 1969, the Northern Tasmanian Unemployed Workers' Union in 1978, Now We the People (Tasmania) in 2000 and the Campaign for a Clean Tamar Valley in 2006.
In 2014 he was elected President of TAP into a Better Tasmania (formerly Tasmanians Against a Pulp Mill) and National President of SEARCH (Social Education, Action and Research Concerning Humanity) Foundation.
Born in Launceston, Tasmania, Thorne has lived there most of his life, apart from short periods in Sydney, NSW and Palo Alto, California. He married Stephanie Lyne in 1969 and they have two daughters.
- Tense Mood and Voice. (Lyre-Bird Writers, Sydney, 1969)
- The What of Sane. (Prism Books, Sydney, 1971) ISBN 978-0-85869-000-4
- New foundations. (Sydney: Poetry Society of Australia, 1976) ISBN 0-85869-009-8
- A Nickel in My Mouth. (Robin Hill Books, Flowerdale, 1979) ISBN 0-908030-03-7
- The atlas. (Wentworth Falls, NSW: Black Lightning Press, 1982) ISBN 0-949582-00-X
- Red Dirt. (Paper Bark Press, Sydney, 1990) ISBN 0-9587801-5-3
- The Streets Aren't for Dreamers. (Shoestring Press, Nottingham, 1995) ISBN 1-899-549-02-1
- Taking Queen Victoria to Inveresk. (QVM&AG, Launceston, 1997) ISBN 0-7246-4800-3
- Head and shin. (Hobart: Walleah Press, 2004) ISBN 1-877010-03-0
- Best Bitter. (PressPress, Berry, 2006) ISBN 0-9580367-8-0
- A Letter to Egon Kisch. (Cornford Press, Launceston, 2007). ISBN 978-0-646-47154-9
- I Con. (Salt, 2008) ISBN 978-1-84471-337-0