Tom Hennen

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Tom Hennen (born 1942, Morris, Minnesota) is an American poet. He grew up on a farm in rural Minnesota and in the early 1960s hitchhiked to California and back several times. During this transient period he met Jack Kerouac outside Seattle Washington and worked at a mob-owned restaurant in San Jose as a dishwasher. In 1965 he began work back in Minnesota as a letterpress and offset printer. Switching careers, he then worked for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources wildlife section in the 1970s and later as a wildlife technician at the Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge in South Dakota. He is now retired.

In 1972 he helped found the Minnesota Writers’ Publishing House (MWPH), a publishing cooperative, backed by Robert and Carol Bly, established to highlight Midwestern literature. For many years, Hennen operated the MWPH press in his garage.[1]

Hennen’s poetry appears in Garrison Keillor’s anthology Good Poems, and he has been further honored by the presentation of Bachelor Farmer Lifetime Achievement Award in the Arts.

Hennen belongs to a cohort of Minnesota poets strongly influenced by Robert Bly, Louis Jenkins and Bill Holm (poet). He is a poet of the landscape—in the words of Bly, his poems have an “ability to bring immense amounts of space, often uninhabited space, into his mind and so into the whole poem.”[2] This yearning to describe the feeling of space has led to his extensive use of the prose poem, where he has found room to “move freely within the rectangular tract of the paragraph.”[3]

Hennen’s most recent book, Darkness Sticks to Everything: Collected and New Poems[4] was published in 2013 by Copper Canyon Press. Novelist and poet Jim Harrison introduces the volume, calling Hennen “a genius of the common touch.”[5][citation needed] Dana Jennings writes in the New York Times, "It's hard to believe that this American master - and I don't use those words lightly - has been hidden right under our noses for decades."[6]

Selected poetry[edit]

  • ’’Darkness Sticks to Everything’’ (Copper Canyon Press, 2013)
  • ’’Crawling Out the Window’’ (Black Hat Press, 1997)
  • ’’Love for Other Things: New and Selected Poems’’ (Dacotah Territory, Moorhead State University, 1993)
  • ’’Looking into the Weather’’ (Westerheim Press, 1983)
  • ’’Selected Poems 1963-1983’’ (Prairie Gate Press, 1983)
  • ’’The Hole in the Landscape Is Real’’ (Prairie Gate Press, 1976)
  • ’’The Heron with No Business Sense’’ (Minnesota Writer’s Publishing House, 1974)


  1. ^ Tom's son Matt
  2. ^ Introduction to Love for Other Things: New and Selected Poems, Dacotah Territory, Moorhead State University, 1993
  3. ^ Thomas R. Smith, Afterword to Darkness Sticks to Everything, Copper Canyon Press, 2013
  4. ^ Site developed by Sage Computer Services ( "Darkness Sticks to Everything, poetry by Tom Hennen". Copper Canyon Press. Retrieved 2013-08-12.
  5. ^ Jim Harrison, A Note on Tom Hennen, Introduction to Darkness Sticks to Everything
  6. ^ "Finding Country Truths in Nature and in People". Archived from the original on 14 December 2014. Retrieved 14 December 2014.