Judith Ortiz Cofer

b. 1952
Judith Ortiz Cofer
Judith Ortiz Cofer was born in Hormigueros, a small town in Puerto Rico. When she was a young child her father’s military career took the family to Paterson, New Jersey, but she often spent her childhood traveling back and forth between Puerto Rico and the U.S. At 15, her family moved again, this time to Augusta, Georgia, where she eventually earned a BA in English from Augusta College. She later earned an MA in English from Florida Atlantic University and did graduate work at Oxford University.
 
Although Ortiz Cofer is best known for her works of creative nonfiction, she began her writing career with poetry, which she feels “contains the essence of language.” Her early chapbook Peregrina (1986) won the Riverstone International Chapbook Competition, and she has published various other collections of poetry since, including Terms of Survival (1987), Reaching for the Mainland (1995), and A Love Story Beginning in Spanish (2005).
 
Ortiz Cofer’s work explores the rifts and gaps that arise between her split cultural heritages. Her early immersion in both Puerto Rican and American culture has shaped her multi-genre approach, which includes works of fiction, prose, poetry, and sometimes a combination of the three. Her work The Latin Deli, which was nominated for a Pulitzer-Prize, explores various genres, combining poetry, short fiction, and personal narrative.  She is also an author of children’s books.
 
In 2010, Ortiz Cofer was inducted into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame. Her awards include grants from the Witter Bynner Foundation and the Georgia Council for the Arts, as well as fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts for poetry, the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, and the Florida Fine Arts Council.
 
Ortiz Cofer teaches at the University of Georgia as the Regents' and Franklin Professor of English and Creative Writing.

Discover this poet’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Categorization

POET’S REGION Caribbean

LIFE SPAN 1952–

Judith Ortiz Cofer

Biography

Judith Ortiz Cofer was born in Hormigueros, a small town in Puerto Rico. When she was a young child her father’s military career took the family to Paterson, New Jersey, but she often spent her childhood traveling back and forth between Puerto Rico and the U.S. At 15, her family moved again, this time to Augusta, Georgia, where she eventually earned a BA in English from Augusta College. She later earned an MA in English from . . .

Report a problem with this biography

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.