Minnesota Author Biographies.

Paul D. Gruchow

Paul Gruchow

From The Necessity of Empty Places (1988) by Paul Gruchow

We ourselves seldom comprehend the moment at hand. So we turn to history, the one element of our lives it is possible to fix on. Or we turn to principle. Or we turn to nature. There we find, amid the silence and mystery, order and structure, the sense that life is not simply random.

Biographical Notes

Birth: May 23, 1947, Montevideo, Minnesota
Death: February 22, 2004, Duluth, Minnesota

Paul Gruchow was an author, editor, teacher, and conservationist. Often compared to Henry David Thoreau and Aldo Leopold, Gruchow wrote about nature and the Minnesota landscape. His book, Journal of a Prairie Year (1985), had its beginnings in a course he taught on the literature of the prairie at Worthington Community College. His writing explored the interconnectedness of people with the land and environmental issues such as the negative impact of industrial farming on the environment. His 1995 book about society’s changing relationship with the land, Grass Roots: The Universe of Home (1995), won a Minnesota Book Award. However, Gruchow’s final work, Letters to a Young Madman (2011), departs from his environmentalist writings. Instead, he shares his experiences coping with mental illness and the mental health care system. Gruchow committed suicide shortly after submitting the manuscript for Letters to a Young Madman, which was published in 2012 by a small Minneapolis press, Levins Publishing. Gruchow's writings have been published in Minnesota Monthly, the Great River Review, and other regional publications. In addition, he was a frequent contributor to the Utne Reader, the New York Times, the Hungry Mind Review and other periodicals.

Gruchow attended the University of Minnesota from 1965-1969 and was editor of the University’s student produced newspaper, the Minnesota Daily, from 1968-1969. From 1969-1970 he served as an aide to Minnesota Congressman Donald Fraser. Gruchow worked as the news and public-affairs director for Minnesota Public Radio from 1971-1972. He was editor of Minneapolis magazine from 1973-1974. From 1976-1986 Gruchow was managing editor and co-owner of the Worthington Daily Globe. During the 1990’s he taught at St. Olaf College, Concordia College, and he was senior lecturer for the Superior Studies environmental program at Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center.

Selected Works
The titles below link to the catalog record in MnPALS, the Minnesota Historical Society’s library catalog. Please click on your browser's back button to return.

Boundary Waters: The Grace of the Wild
“Discovering the Universe of Home”
Journal of a Prairie Year
The Necessity of Empty Places
Travels in Canoe Country

Additional Resources

Minnesota Historical Society Library Links

• Search MNHS Library and Archives Catalog for author. Searches for works by this author in the Minnesota Historical Society library
Imagining Home: Writing from the Midwest edited by Mark Vinz and Thom Tammaro
Paul Gruchow interviewed by Phyllis Pope - Videocassette (1989)

Web Links

“Human Nature” by Hans Eisenbeis - Tribute article to Paul Gruchow
“Minnesota Profile: A Joyful Noise” by Paul Gruchow
Minnesota Public Radio - Tribute to Paul Gruchow from March 12, 2004
The Paul Gruchow Foundation - Includes articles, interviews, book list, and quotes
“Prairie Tribute: Paul Gruchow's Voice Echoes in Essays” by Amy Goetzman

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