Barbara Henning

1948 –

Barbara Henning was born on October 26, 1948, in Detroit. In 1984, she moved to New York City, where she became friends with many of the second-generation New York School poets, who then had a profound influence on her work.  

Henning has published eight collections of poetry, including Digigram (United Artists Books, 2020); A Day Like Today (Negative Capability Press, 2015); A Swift Passage (Quale Press, 2013); Cities and Memory (Chax Press, 2010); and My Autobiography (United Artists Books, 2007). 

Cole Swenson writes about Henning’s poetry:

Swerving continuously from a precise presence to its reverberating context, Barbara Henning puts the present moment into perspective with patient irony and relentless accuracy. As she careens her bicycle through another calendar year, she traces the complex network that connects protesters in Tibet to a child on a swing, or the cawing of black crows to oil deposits in West Africa. Henning adds a global attention to the grand New York tradition of the frank reportage of daily life, making those mundane details refract in myriad sparkling colors. Clearly, she loves the world, and has found a way to do so through language.

Henning is also a prose writer who has written four novels and a book of creative nonfiction about her mother, titled Ferne: A Detroit Story (Spuyten Duyvil Publishing, 2022). Ferne received a Michigan Notable Book Award from the Library of Michigan in 2023.

Henning was the publisher and editor of the journal Long News: In the Short Century from 1990 to 1995. For several years, she served on the board of the feminist press, Belladonna*. While living in Tucson, she was a board member for both Chax Press and POG Arts Tucson from 2006 to 2009. She taught for the MFA program at Naropa University from 2006 to 2014. Henning is currently a professor emerita of English at Long Island University in Brooklyn. Her archives are housed at the Beinecke Library at Yale University.