Jennifer Kabat’s essays, included in The Best American Essays, are sweeping histories that interleave socialism, modernism and the natural world with her own longing for a way to understand our contemporary moment. She teaches at SVA in New York City and is a contributor to Granta magazine.
Jennifer’s twinned book-length essays The Eighth Moon and Nightshining are forthcoming from Milkweed Editions. The Eighth Moon grew from a Granta essay and Nightshining from a finalist listing for Notting Hill Editions’ essay prize, subsequently published by Harper’s.
Her writing has also appeared in McSweeney’s, BOMB, The Believer and Virginia Quarterly Review, among others. She frequently collaborates with artists, including Kate Newby and Marlene McCarty, writes for Frieze and has contributed to artists’ monographs and museum catalogues, including for London’s Victoria & Albert Museum. Her writing has been supported by grants from Silvers Foundation, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, SUNY Albany, NYSCA and NYFA as well as a residency at Headlands Center for the Arts.
She has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia and is part of core faculty on the Design Research MA at SVA in New York City. She is on the advisory board for the poetry collective Ugly Duckling Presse. An apprentice herbalist, Jennifer lives in rural upstate New York and serves on her volunteer fire department.
‘I could not have found my expanded voice as a writer without Jennifer Kabat. My confidence and courage grew beyond what I thought were my limits. Her gentle insistence, persistence, and vision led me toward new forms – I took risks and felt brave. Jennifer Kabat is a gifted and natural writing teacher. She sees each student for who they are and who they can become. I found myself moving well beyond who I thought myself to be, emboldened and inspired.’ – Jenny Monick
‘Jen Kabat saved me from myself, extending her wisdom and guidance beyond her professorial duties to support a research project that pushed my writing outside my self-imposed limits. She challenged me to fail; she urged me to spill the worst thoughts I’ve ever had onto paper, to embrace the cliched, to lean into the surface as a way to break through to what I actually needed to say. It was scary and exciting and unexpected to have someone recognize the soul-crushing process of writing as a paradoxically life-saving exercise.
There are few teachers that can weave poetics into the doldrum of the everyday, excise a purpose from your messiest, ill-conceived ideas, honor the value of individual perspective in nonfiction, and provide endlessly thoughtful threads of insight and critique and reference material to a cohort of students all while sustaining her own creative writing practice. Somehow, Jen Kabat manages to do all of this and then some. I am so honored to have been her student.’ – Cornelia Smith