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Judith Tannenbaum's Biography

Member Info

Jan 2008

Judith Tannenbaum is a writer and teacher who cares very deeply about a vision and practice of art-making that includes all of us. She has received two California Arts Council Artist-in-Residence grants. The first of these allowed her to teach poetry at San Quentin for three years; the second was for a three- year poetry project at the continuation high school in Albany, California, and at one of the town’s primary schools. Each of these grant cycles lead to a book, Disguised as a Poem: My Years Teaching Poetry at San Quentin, is a memoir and Teeth, Wiggly as Earthquakes: Writing Poetry in the Primary Grades is a book for teachers. Both books were published in the year 2000. She currently serves as training coordinator for San Francisco’s WritersCorps program. Judith edited two books for WritersCorps: Jump Write In!, Creative Writing Exercises for Diverse Communities, Grades 6-12 (Jossey-Bass, 2005) and Solid Ground (Aunt Lute Books, 2006).

Judith has a strong commitment to prisoners and prison issues. She wrote and edited California’s Arts-in-Corrections’ newsletter, their book-length Manual For Artists Working In Prison (available free at her website), and the Handbook for Arts in the Youth Authority Program. She has also completed a feasibility study for arts programming in Minnesota state prisons, taught in prisons across the country, and been a featured speaker at numerous prison arts conferences nationally.

Judith writes a great deal about the field of teaching art; many of her essays appear in Teaching Artist Journal. She has published five collections of poems, has recently completed a novel (Day’s Light Beginning to Deepen) and has just started another (Life Without). She also has published five small poetry collections.


As a little girl, I listened to the stories told and the opinions expressed by my large, extended, verbal family. As a young woman and writer I loved and learned from Doris Lessing, Henry Miller, Grace Paley and Isaac Bashevis Singer.

Romare Beardon's collages and Kenneth Patchen's picture poems, Fellini's 8 1/2, the poems and vision of William Blake and Czeslaw Milosz.

Upcoming Works

By Heart: Poetry, Prison, and Two Lives (two-person memoir written with Spoon Jackson). April, 2010.

Recommended Links


Northeastern University Press
Stenhouse Publishers
Aunt Lute Books
New Village Press