A native of San Francisco, Gretchen E. Henderson writes across genres and the arts to invigorate her critical and creative practices. Her books include a poetic novel, Galerie de Difformité (&NOW Books, winner of the Madeleine P. Plonsker Emerging Writer’s Prize, also a Nobbie Best Book of 2011), a critical volume about literary appropriations of music and silence, On Marvellous Things Heard (Green Lantern Press, 2011), and a poetry chapbook engaging cartographic history, Wreckage: By Land & By Sea (Dancing Girl Press, 2011). Her second novel, The House Enters the Street (Starcherone Books), was shortlisted for the AWP Award Series in the Novel and the Sherwood Anderson Fiction Award. Her fiction, poetry, nonfiction, scholarship, and hybrid writings have been published in a range of journals and anthologies, including The Kenyon Review, The Iowa Review, The Southern Review, Denver Quarterly, Ploughshares, Black Warrior Review, The Journal of Artists’ Books, The &NOW Awards: The Best Innovative Writing (both volumes I and II), Ugliness: The Non-Beautiful in Art + Theory, and a number of other publications.
Gretchen’s recent positions include being a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities at MIT, MetaLAB Fellow at Harvard University, Kresge Faculty Fellow at UCSC, Mary Catherine Mooney Fellow at the Boston Athenaeum, Everett Helm Visiting Fellow at Indiana University’s Lilly Library, and Affiliated Scholar at Kenyon College. Her work has been heavily influenced by residencies at artist colonies (most recently the Millay Colony), by collaborative practice, by cross-disciplinary inquiries, and by teaching at a number of colleges. Her recent courses include “Creative Writing and Visual Culture: Writing in the Museum” and “Creative Writing: (un)Writing the Book” (both at MIT) and “The Literary Hybrid/Book Arts” (at the Kenyon Review Writers’ Workshop), and she has taught a wide range of creative writing and literature courses at other colleges. She also regularly gives invited lectures and readings, recently including New York University, Princeton University, Hampshire College, Hamilton College, the New York Art Book Fair @ PS1/MoMA, and elsewhere. Working at the intersection of literature, art history, book history, museum studies, disability studies, digital humanities, and music, her research explores aesthetics of deformity, museology as narrative strategy, poetics of (dis)embodiment / (in)accessibility / author(ity), literary appropriations of music, and the body of the book.
Gretchen holds degrees from Princeton University (BA, summa cum laude), Columbia University (MFA), and the University of Missouri (PhD), as well as a Preparatory Certificate in Voice from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Among other projects, she is completing a book, Ugliness: A Cultural History (for Reaktion Books), while continuing the collaborative deformation of her Galerie de Difformité (participation invited at: difformite.wordpress.com). She also is engaged in other collaborations and recently completed an opera libretto for a chamber opera, Cassandra in the Temples, being composed by the Guggenheim-winning composer, Elena Ruehr (with an upcoming performance at MIT by the Grammy-winning NY vocal ensemble, Roomful of Teeth). This past summer, Gretchen received an NEH grant to study in Greece to help support this project. A fifth-generation Californian, she lives with her husband and their shepherd mutt in Santa Cruz.