He was educated at Nebraska Wesleyan University (B.A., 1994), Texas Tech University (M.A., 1996), the University of Virginia (M.F.A., 1999), and the University of Iowa (Ph.D., 2007). He has been hailed by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune as a "marvelous poet" and by The Times Literary Supplement as a "tenacious scholar." His essays and poetry have appeared in The Atlantic, Harper's, The New Republic, Outside, Poetry, and the Washington Post Book World. He is the author of two books of poems and the literary history Walt Whitman and the Civil War, which, the Richmond Times-Dispatch wrote, "fills in a major gap in previous biographies of Whitman and rebuts the canard that Whitman was unaffected by the war and the run-up to it." His book Canned: The Great Recession and America's Strange Love Affair with Spam is forthcoming from HarperCollins. His awards include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, and inclusion in the Pushcart Prize Anthology and Best American Travel Writing. He was editor of the Virginia Quarterly Review from 2003 to 2012, during which time the magazine won six National Magazine Awards.
- Canned: The Great Recession and America's Strange Love Affair with Spam, HarperCollins, forthcoming 2014.
- Anna, Washing, University of Georgia Press, 2008, ISBN 978-0-8203-3206-2
- Bullroarer: A Sequence, Northeastern University Press, 2001, ISBN 978-1-55553-507-0
Limited Edition Poetry Collections
- Anna, washing, Parallel Press, University of Wisconsin–Madison, 2001, ISBN 1-893311-19-8
- The Cow Caught in the Ice, Soundpost Press, University of Wisconsin–LaCrosse, 1999.
- The Dead Have a Way of Returning, Brooding Heron Press, 1997, ISBN 978-0-918116-92-5
Criticism and Edited Volumes
- Swallowing the Soap: The Selected Poems of William Kloefkorn, University of Nebraska Press, 2010, ISBN 978-0803234055
- Walt Whitman and the Civil War: America's Poet During the Lost Years of 1860-1862, University of California Press, 2009, ISBN 978-0-520-25906-5
- Joseph Kalar, Papermill: Poems, 1927-1935, University of Illinois Press, 2006, ISBN 978-0252072000
- Walt Whitman: The Correspondence, Volume VII, Iowa, 2004, ISBN 978-0877458913
- Hard time: voices from a state prison, 1849-1914, Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2002, ISBN 978-0-87351-434-7
- The Selected Poems of Miguel Hernández, University of Chicago Press, 2001, ISBN 978-0-22632-773-0
- A Perfect Picture of Hell: Eyewitness Accounts by Civil War Prisoners from the 12th Iowa (co-editor), University of Iowa Press, 2001, ISBN 978-0-87745-759-6
- Burning the Hymnal: The Uncollected Poems of William Kloefkorn, Slow Tempo Press, 1994, ISBN 978-0963555939
- 2010 Best American Traveling Writing for "Batman Returns"
- 2010 Guggenheim Fellowship
- 2010 Choice / American Library Association Outstanding Academic Title for Walt Whitman and the Civil War
- 2003 Pushcart Prize for poetry for "Night-Train"
- 2003 National Endowment for the Arts fellowship in Poetry.
- 2002 John Ciardi Fellowship, Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, Middlebury College
- 2002 Natalie Ornish Poetry Award for Bullroarer
- 2002 Nebraska Book Award for Poetry for Bullroarer
- 2001 Samuel French Morse Poetry Prize for Bullroarer
- 1998 Guy Owen Poetry Prize from Southern Poetry Review for "The Killing Floor"
- 1997 Guy Owen Poetry Prize from Southern Poetry Review for "The Cow Caught in the Ice"
- 1996 First Place National Hackney Literary Award, Birmingham-Southern College, for "Notes to the Next Century"
- 1995 Associated Writing Programs Intro Award for "The New Distances"
Editorial Honors at the Virginia Quarterly Review
- 2011 National Magazine Award for Multimedia Package for Elliott Woods's Assignment Afghanistan
- 2011 National Magazine Award for Fiction for Paul Theroux's "Minor Watt"
- 2010 National Magazine Award for News Reporting in the Digital Medium for Jason Motlagh's "Sixty Hours of Terror."
- 2010 Independent Press Award for International Coverage, Utne Reader
- 2009 Independent Press Award for General Excellence, Utne Reader
- 2008 National Magazine Award for Single-Topic Issue for "South America in the 21st Century" (Daniel Alarcón, co-editor)
- 2006 National Magazine Award for General Excellence
- 2006 National Magazine Award for Fiction for "Three Tales of Suspense"
- 2006 Folio Award for Editorial Excellence, Association / Nonprofit, FOLIO: magazine
- 2005 Folio Award for Best Redesign, Association / Nonprofit, FOLIO: magazine
- 2005 Phoenix Award for Significant Editorial Achievement, Council of Editors of Learned Journals
- 2004 Parnassus Award for Significant Editorial Achievement, Council of Editors of Learned Journals
In 2004, librarian Alan Cordle launched the anonymous website Foetry.com, intended to reveal corruption in poetry publishing. The following year, when Cordle was unmasked, Genoways co-authored an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education agreeing that poetry contests were in need of reform but cautioned: "Foetry's charges are leveled carelessly and with no acceptable standards of proof; its methods are wrongheaded and dangerous. They divert attention from the merits of the poetry in question, and they give license to its contributors to speculate openly and without accountability on the private lives and alleged public transgressions of writers, judges, and editors." Subsequently, Genoways was appointed to a panel that drafted the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses code of ethics.
In May 2009, Louisiana State University President Michael Martin announced the closure of LSU Press and the Southern Review. In response, Genoways published "The Future of University Presses and Journals (A Manifesto)" and told the Associated Press that LSU needed to decide: "Do you want to be known as some place that supports the history and culture of your region or some place that has fantastic outside linebackers?" Martin responded that athletics subsidize some academic programs. "In some respects," Martin said, "the press has been saved by the outside linebackers—up to this point." Days later, Ronald D. Liebowitz, the president of Middlebury College, announced the closure of New England Review, prompting Genoways to publish "Whose Woods Are These?" In September 2009, Northwestern University announced the immediate termination of the editorial staff of its literary journal TriQuarterly and the reformulation of the magazine as a student-run, online publication. "The shuttering of TriQuarterly and termination of its editorial posts is troubling for a couple of reasons," Genoways told The Chronicle of Higher Education in an e-mail. "First, it's a disturbing continuation of a trend begun this spring with the New England Review and Southern Review. It suggests eroding support for literature from our colleges and universities. Second, it's more than a little creepy to see Northwestern describe the dismantling of a major literary institution as a 'reaffirmation' of the university's commitment to publishing. This is the kind of Orwellian doublespeak I'd expect from Dick Cheney, not a university of Northwestern's caliber."
In January 2010, Genoways published "The Death of Fiction?" in Mother Jones. "Once strongholds of literature and learned discussion in our country, university-based quarterlies have seen steadily declining subscriber bases since their heyday a half-century ago—and an even greater dent in their cultural relevance," Genoways wrote. "All of which has left too many university presidents, already in search of cuts for short-term gain, eyeing their presses and literary magazines and wondering who will miss them if they're gone." The article was reprinted in Colombia's El Malpensante and sparked a series of mostly supportive editorials in Australia in journals such as Harvest and Overland. In the United States, however, most responses defended universities and their MFA programs in creative writing. Steve Almond wrote in The Rumpus: "It seems to me the rise of MFA programs is mostly about people going in search of themselves, people who feel the emptiness of our historical moment, who feel unmoored from family, adrift in a sea of marketing, who seek to find a cure in storytelling. Are some of us needy, entitled narcissists who are in it for the wrong reasons? Yeah." Jay Baron Nicorvo, of the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses, wrote: "If fiction is indeed faltering, the university system isn’t at fault, nor are the navel-gazing writers who come out of it."
In 2010, Genoways was accused of bullying his managing editor Kevin Morrissey, who had committed suicide. After the University of Virginia's internal audit concluded that there were "no specific allegations of bullying or harassment" prior to Morrissey's death, Morrissey's family filed a lawsuit against the University of Virginia, former President John T. Casteen III, and Genoways in July 2012. The case is the subject of What Killed Kevin?, a documentary film by Beverly Peterson. According to the Huffington Post, "Peterson is careful not to exempt Genoways from fault altogether. But neither does she magnify his managerial flaws to suggest that they were inhumane, much less murderous. What she does do is explore how rumors began and intensified over time, how external actors intervened to shape and feed these rumors, and how once they had flourished, they affected the life and career of a gifted editor and his family."
- Tursi, Renee. Review of Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, Volume 7, ed. Ted Genoways. TLS June 18, 2004
- Miller, Pamela. "Poetry, Well-Versed" Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Dec. 16, 2001