Author Talk + Signing: Barbara Henning

Ferne is a time capsule of mid-century Detroit, a city poised to explode. Its sounds, scents, and sights spill forth, as vividly experienced by a vibrant young woman whose life would end too soon. Ferne joyously curates her own life; that’s the heart of this book. But we also encounter her through the fervent eyes of her daughter, poet and novelist Barbara Henning, who lyrically fills in and fleshes out the social contours and details of the ghostly presence that haunts these pages. Through her daughter’s skilled hands, Ferne comes to life again on these pages, bringing with her glimpses of the city she loved so deeply.

John Hartigan, Jr., Shaving the Beasts: Ritual and Wild Horses in Spain

Barbara Henning has composed a Valentine to her mother, Ferne, whose tragic young life she recreates with loving detail and an eye for family romance. The resulting immediacy gives these American proletarian figures their due, whether in the shadow of war, death or everyday living. This memoir’s fundamental power lies in breaking open memory’s dam with a heart-language that makes space for what is, after all, our common lot.

Chris Tysh, Night Scales: A Fable for Klara K

Barbara Henning is an indomitable writer, thinker, traveler and a stalwart weaver of the threads through the heart centers and margins of her own existence. This is a daughter’s complicated love story of a mother and a city and a time before we knew more than we thought to know. A poignant tribute of what haunts the premises in all the fractures and layers in the souls of America. A brilliant—and in a strange way—a most timely intervention.

Barbara Henning is the author of four novels and eight collections of poetry, as well as many chapbooks and essays. Her most recent books are a novel, Just Like That (Spuyten Duyvil 2018); poetry collections, Digigram (United Artist Books, 2020) and A Day Like Today (Negative Capability Press 2015); and Prompt Book: Experiments for Writing Poetry and Fiction (Spuyten Duyvil 2020). Barbara has taught for Wayne State University, Naropa University and Long Island University where she is Professor Emerita. Born in Detroit, she presently lives in Brooklyn. More information is available on her website


Event date: 
Tuesday, June 14, 2022 - 6:00pm to 7:00pm
Event address: 
19560 Grand River Ave.
Detroit, MI 48223
Ferne: A Detroit Story Cover Image
ISBN: 9781956005318
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
(This book is non-returnable)
Published: Spuyten Duyvil - February 1st, 2022