Poetry News

Judith Ortiz Cofer Dies at 64

By Harriet Staff


Online Athens has noted the death of poet, novelist, and professor Judith Ortiz Cofer. Cofer, a professor at the University of Georgia, died on December 30th at the age of 64. Wayne Ford remembers Cofer and notes her many accomplishments:

Cofer, who in 2010 was inducted into the Georgia Writer’s Hall of Fame, was a professor from 1984 until she retired in 2013. She became ill from cancer not long after retirement, but continued to make speaking engagements, including a literary festival last April at Western Carolina University.

Cofer, who died at her home near Louisville, was buried in the Louisville City Cemetery. While a professor at UGA, she lived in Athens, then spent weekends at her home with her husband, John Cofer, a high school mathematics teacher. She had one daughter.

A native of Puerto Rico, her family moved to New Jersey when she was a child and in 1967 they moved to Augusta.

“She was a wonderful writer of essays, poetry and novels,” said UGA English Professor Hugh Ruppersburg. “One of the main things in her works was the experience of moving to the United States from Puerto Rico as a young child and adapting herself to becoming accustomed to another culture.”

Ford goes on to speak to Betty Jean Craige, who praised Cofer's work as a poet and noted her her strong connection to the Latino community:

“Judith Cofer was one of the wonderful poets of her generation. She was witty, philosophically deep and emotionally touching,” said Betty Jean Craige, also a retired professor from the English Department and a longtime friend.

“She was a beautiful representative of the Latino community, but she was a poet for everybody,” Craige said. “She was nationally known and widely anthologized for her poetry from the perspective of Hispanic Americans, but the appeal of her poetry was not limited to Hispanic Americans.”

Continue on at Online Athens, and then head here to read a selection of Cofer's poetry.

Originally Published: January 4th, 2017