Larry Siems was born in St. Louis, Missouri and grew up in New Hope, Minnesota, graduating from Neil Armstrong High School in 1977. He studied English and Classical Greek at the University of Notre Dame and poetry in the MFA program at Columbia University, and he was a fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in 1987-1988.
Since then, he has balanced writing and activism, publishing scores of articles on human rights and cross-cultural themes and serving for many years as director of Freedom to Write Programs for the writers advocacy organization PEN, first at PEN USA in Los Angeles and then at PEN American Center in New York. His work has appeared in a wide range of publications, including The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Slate, The Nation, LA Weekly, and Ironwood, Epoch, and Southern Poetry Review.
He has three books: Between the Lines: Letters Between Undocumented Mexican and Central American Immigrants and Their Families and Friends (Ecco 1992, University of Arizona Press 1993); The Torture Report: What the Documents Say About America’s Post 9/11 Torture Program (OR Books, 2012); and Guantánamo Diary (Little Brown, 2015).
He currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.