He read poetry in the Jazz Cellar in San Francisco in 1957, and said, “jazz is to music what poetry is to knowing.” He continued to give reads accompanied by jazz musicians up until 2012. In 1972, Briggs co-founded the San Francisco Book Company and then Robert Briggs Associates, as a literary agent and small West Coast publisher. The company was involved in a variety of nonfiction which included Rolling Thunder: An Exploration into the Powers of an American Indian Medicine Manitoba by Doug Boyd, Mind as Healer, Mind as Slayer, Kenneth Pelletier"s classic book on stress, as well as works by Joseph Campbell, Colin Wilson, and Theodore Roszak.
In the 1950s he was a bookseller in Greenwich Village, New York, and North Beach in San Francisco.
Robert Briggs served in the Army during the Korean War and witnessed an atom bomb test at Frenchman Flats, Nevada. Filmmaker Chel White directed a short film about Briggs" atom bomb experience titled, "The Beats, the Bomb and the 1950s.