Joshua Wolf Shenk is a curator, essayist, and author, most recently, of Powers of Two: How Relationships Drive Creativity. His Atlantic cover stories include "What Makes Us Happy?" about the psychiatrist George Vaillant and the "Harvard happiness study." He's published in Harper's, The New Yorker, The New York Times, Slate, GQ, The Nation, Riverteeth, and the anthology Unholy Ghost: Writers on Depression (edited by Nell Casey). His first book, Lincoln’s Melancholy, was a best book of 2005 by The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Atlanta-Journal Constitution, and won awards from The Abraham Lincoln Institute, the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, and the National Mental Health Association.
A founding advisor to The Moth, Josh served on the organization's board of directors, where he played a lead role developing The Moth Radio Hour, now on nearly 400 stations worldwide. He created and directs the Erikson Prize for Mental Health Media and the Arts in Mind conversation series on the intersection of creative arts and psychology, co-hosted by the New School in New York City. He serves on the board of PEN Center USA.
In the spring of 2015, Josh was appointed the next executive director and writer-in-residence of the Beverly Rogers, Carol C. Harter Black Mountain Institute at the University of Nevada Las Vegas.
Josh has taught creative writing (usually literary non-fiction) at The New School, New York University, Washington College (where he was director of the Rose O'Neill Literary House), the Bread Loaf Writer's Conference, and The Power of Narrative Conference at Boston University.
With Harold Holzer, he co-edited In Lincoln's Hand an anthology of original original manuscripts with original essays by John Updike, Toni Morrison, Tony Kushner, Bill Clinton, and many more.
His honors include residencies at Yaddo, MacDowell, the Blue Mountain Center, and the Norman Mailer Center; a Rosalynn Carter fellowship in mental health journalism at the Carter Center; a Japan Society Media Fellowship; and the Frank Whiting scholarship at the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference. Josh was a 2005-06 fellow in non-fiction literature at the New York Foundation for the Arts.
Josh has read, lectured and keynoted widely on creativity, relationships, mental health, &c. at forums including The International Society for the Performing Arts, The Alliance of Artist Communities, Microsoft, Gard Communications, the 92nd St. Y, the University of Southern California, the University of Iowa, The Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, Seattle's Project Room, the Central Coast Creative Economy Forum, and The Sum.
He lives in the Silverlake neighborhood of Los Angeles and is the father to a five-year-old boy who, like Josh, has webbed toes.