About Jill


Who is Jill Breckenridge?

Jill grew up as a cowgirl in the West, where she finished her first two years of college.

After moving to Minnesota, she —

  • Graduated from the University of Minnesota with a teaching degree.
  • Taught English and history in junior high and high school, and set up alternative learning environments for students on and off campus.
  • Edited a newspaper that published Twin Cities students' journalism and creative writing, and was distributed to 90 high schools.
  • Directed The Loft, a Center for Writers, where she began the Mentor Series, a program in which nationally known writers work with local writers.
  • Completed an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College (that became Warren Wilson).
  • Taught a public workshop called "Confronting the Empty Page," and began coaching individual writers.
  • Completed a Masters degree in Counseling Psychology from St. Mary's College.
  • Taught business and technical writing in many local and national companies and colleges (i.e. St. Paul Companies, U.S. Bank, Prudential, and William Mitchell Law School).
  • Began painting in watercolor, acrylic and oil.
  • Continued coaching writers in every field of writing—creative, academic, business, and medical.
  • Began working as a personal coach.

Today, Jill shares her life with playwright, John Fenn, in Minneapolis, where they raised a combined family of five children and two dogs, sundry cats, snakes, lizards, and guinea pigs.



What has Jill written?

The Gravity of Flesh
A book of personal poems

"Contains forty poems and thirty-three of them are my very favorite... Breckenridge has a tough-mindedness that eliminates the non-essential...and it gives the book an exhilarating density. She never wastes the reader's time - every poem matters..." — Connie Wanek, poet and reviewer for mnartists.org


How to Be Lucky
A book of personal poems

"Page after page in this collection loads the reader with lore and insights and sometimes truly trenchant emotional epiphanies. Further, I think this book maintains a strong tone and character throughout." — William Stafford, 1990 Bluestem Award Final Judge


Civil Blood
A sequence of poetry and prose about the Civil War period.

"...an extraordinary marriage of fact and imagination, and an abundance of vision and skill which has led the poet to invent a kaleidoscope of voices, forms, styles, and genres to create a panorama of the human heart that we associate only with rare, rich novels." — Lisel Mueller

"Cabell's story has the force of verisimilitude... (His) half-dozen military engagements contain some of the author's most powerfully critical writing...in terms that recall the...horribly graphic battle scenes of the 'Illiad.'" — Emily Grosholz, The New York Times Book Review


Miss Priss and the Con Man
Here is some advance praise for Miss Priss and the Con Man:

"In Miss Priss and the Con Man, Jill Breckenridge brings her counselor's insight, her poet's voice and a daughter's love to her tales of growing up in what seems like a truly wild West. And she is up to the role too, of heroine, in a place and a time filled with shysters and horses, and booze that never stops flowing. Would that every con man had a Miss Priss to tell his story." — Jane Hamilton

Jill's memoir will be published in 2011 by Nodin Press.


Raised Voices,
a performance piece about domestic violence, co-authored with Roseann Lloyd. Jill and Roseann are two of the founders of Silent Witness, an organization devoted to eliminating domestic violence.


"The Horoscope Promises Me A Mother's Gift,"
a prose piece, is included in the 1997 national anthology, From Daughters to Mothers: I've Always Meant to Tell You, published by Pocket Books.


"Winter Heart," published in the 2003 anthology, Family Reunion: Poems About Parenting Grown Children, published by Chicory Blue Press,


"Cooking Catalogue," published in 2005 anthology, Sweeping Beauty: Contemporary Women Poets Do Housework, published by University of Iowa Press.



Which awards has she won?

  • The Gravity of Flesh won a 2009 Northeastern Minnesota Book Award in poetry.
  • Civil Blood was nominated for a National Book Critics' Circle Award and the American Library Association's Notable Books of the year.
  • How to be Lucky won the Bluestem Award.
  • Other writing honors include Loft-McKnight Writers' Awards in both creative prose and poetry, a Bush Foundation Fellowship, and two State Arts Board Grants.


Jill Breckenridge is available for readings of her poetry or memoir, and talks on various other topics about writing and publishing. You may contact Jill through this website.