Photo by Michah Saperstein (August 2021)


Born in Detroit in 1948, Barbara Henning moved to New York City in 1983 with the father of her children, Allen Saperstein (d. 4/25/1997).  She is the mother of Michah Saperstein and Linnée Snyder, with two grandchildren, Luke and Logan Snyder. In 2005 Barbara moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico briefly and then to Tucson, Arizona where she taught for the University of Arizona and for the Poetry Center, serving on the board of the literary group POG and Chax Press. In 2010 she returned to New York City, settling first in the East Village and then in 2017 in Brooklyn.

She is the author of five novels, seven collections of poetry, four chapbooks and a series of photo-poem pamphlets. Lewis Warsh published her first book of poems with United Artists, Smoking in the Twilight Bar (1988).  Subsequent poetry collections include: Digigram (United Artists Books, 2020), A Day Like Today (Negative Capability 2015), A Swift Passage (Quale Press), Cities and Memory (Chax Press), My Autobiography (United Artists), Detective Sentences (Spuyten Duyvil), Love Makes Thinking Dark (United Artists).  She is also the author of five novels, most recently, a novelized biography of Ferne Hostetter (Barbara’s mother), Ferne, A Detroit Story (Spuyten Duyvil, 2022), Just Like That (Spuyten Duyvil, 2018), Thirty Miles to Rosebud, You Me and the Insects, and Black Lace. Between 2003 and 2014, she published limited editions of a series of artist pamphlets (16), combining photography and poetry. 

In her collection of poetry, A Day Like Today (Negative Capability Press, 2015).  Cole Swenson describes this book: “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.” Anselm Berrigan writes: “Barbara Henning’s poems beautifully render time by speaking precisely from that irreducible zone where inner mind merges with on-going perception. They continuously feel their measure through an ever-turning line, the action of which parallels the steady hum of the public and private spaces — and bodies —  she so exquisitely brings to light.”

Henning is the editor of a book of interviews, Looking Up Harryette Mullen (Belladonna, 2011), and The Selected Prose of Bobbie Louise Hawkins (Blazevox, 2012).  She was also a board member for Belladonna Series (2012-2016), and the editor of the poetry/art journal, Long News: In the Short Century (1990-1995). As a long-time yoga practitioner, having lived and studied in Mysore, India with Shankaranarayana Jois, she brings this knowledge and discipline to her writing and her teaching at Naropa University (2006-14), University of Arizona (2006-2009), and Long Island University in Brooklyn, where she is Professor Emeritus.


Drawing by Rie Shimamura, December 2017.

See also:  Poetry Foundation