Judith Harris was born in Washington DC and earned her BA from the University of Maryland, an MA in Creative Writing from Brown University, and a PhD in American literature from George Washington University. She has taught at George Washington, Catholic University, George Mason University, and American University, and has held residencies at VCCA and Frost Place. 

Her collections of poetry include Night Garden (2013), The Bad Secret (2006), and Atonement (2000). Her highly acclaimed critical study Signifying Pain: Constructing and Healing the Self through Writing (2003) was published by SUNY Press, and her essays have been published in many journals, including Tikkun, College English, the Washingtonian, and the Chronicle of Associated Writing Programs. She has also contributed to the Graywolf anthologies Simply Lasting: Writers on Jane Kenyon (2005) and After Confession (2001).

Her poems have appeared in the Nation, Slate, Ploughshares, the New Republic, the Atlantic and Narrative magazine, Southern Review, the American Scholar, Prairie Schooner and in Ted Kooser's American Life in Poetry series. In 2007, she was chosen by then US Poet Laureate Donald Hall to read at the Library of Congress, and in 2010 was a discussant with Ed Hirsch at the Folger Shakespeare Library. She has been nominated for Pushcart prizes, and is a recipient of grants from Carnegie Mellon and the DC Commission on the Arts. She lives and teaches in Washington DC.