Gretel Ehrlich is an American travel writer, poet, and essayist.
Born in 1946 in Santa Barbara, California, she studied at Bennington College and UCLA film school. She began to write full-time in 1978, living on a Wyoming ranch, after the death of a loved one. Ehrlich debuted in 1985 with The Solace of Open Spaces, a collection of essays on rural life in Wyoming. Her first novel, also set in Wyoming, was Heart Mountain (1988), about a community being invaded by an internment camp for Japanese Americans.
One of Ehrlich's best-received books is a volume of creative nonfiction essays called Islands, The Universe, Home. Her characteristic style of merging intense, vivid, factual observations of nature with a wryly mystical personal voice is evident in this work. Other books include This Cold Heaven: Seven Seasons in Greenland and two volumes of poetry.
In 1991 Ehrlich was hit by lightning. She was incapacitated for several years, writing a book about the experience, A Match to the Heart, which was published in 1994. Since 1993, she has traveled extensively, especially through Greenland and western China.
Her work is frequently anthologised, including The Nature Reader. She has received many grants. In 1991, she collaborated with British choreographer Siobhan Davies, writing and recording a poem cycle for a ballet that opened in the Southbank Centre in London.