Kenny Fries

Kenny Fries


Faculty member Kenny Fries is the author of In the Province of the Gods, which received the Creative Capital literature grant; The History of My Shoes and the Evolution of Darwin’s Theory, recipient of the Outstanding Book Award from the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Human Rights and Bigotry; and Body, Remember: A Memoir; as well as editor of Staring Back: The Disability Experience from the Inside Out. He was commissioned by Houston Grand Opera to write the libretto for The Memory Stone, which premiered at Asia Society Texas Center. His books of poems include In the Gardens of Japan, Desert Walking, and Anesthesia. His work has been translated into German, Spanish, and Japanese, and has appeared in numerous places including The New York Times, Granta, LitHub, Catapult, and Electric Literature. He was a Creative Arts Fellow of the Japan/U.S. Friendship Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts, twice a Fulbright Scholar (Japan and Germany), and has received grants from DAAD (German Academic Exchange), the Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, and Toronto Arts Council. He was awarded a 2019 Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center Arts and Literary Arts fellowship residency to work on his next book, Stumbling over History: Aktion T4, Disability, and the Holocaust.



MFA in Theater Arts-Playwriting, Columbia University, School of the Arts
BA in English and Literature, Brandeis University

Areas of Expertise

  • Creative Nonfiction
  • Poetry
  • Dramatic Writing
  • Libretto

Personal Statement

As a teacher, I hope to guide my students through the process of writing what is difficult to write by encouraging them to wrestle with what viscerally engages them, to keep the stakes high, and to hone the crucial editorial skills once the initial creative arc has been forged. I aim to help each student find and develop the voice that lifts the work off the page into the reader’s psyche.

I stress the importance of reading deeply and widely, and of gaining familiarity with other media, especially visual art and music. No matter the subject, no matter the genre, I am concerned with the organic: how form and content reflect, affect, and interact with each other; how details inform the whole; how the entire work relates to its collected parts.

Much of my work the past twenty years has been concerned, in one way or another, with the body, as both subject and metaphor; as the place where the personal becomes the universal; as the site of memory, language, and desire.

Other Members