Judith Ortiz Cofer’s Poetry Touches a Chord

Judith Ortiz Cofer is a Latina poet and prolific writer, born in
Puerto Rico in 1952 and now residing in Athens, Georgia.She married
Charles John Cofer in 1971, and has one daughter, Tanya.She immigrated to
the United States with her parents in 1956, and they settled in New Jersey,
where she had most of her early schooling.Cofer learned English to “help
her Spanish speaking mother run the household and make important decisions”
(“Hispanic Writers” 165), and came to love the language and its power
(“Hispanic Writers” 165).In 1974, she received her B.A. in English from
Augusta College, and in 1977 went on to receive her M.A. in English from
Florida Atlantic University, then complete some graduate work at Oxford
University (Editors).Cofer’s background is in teaching, and that is where
she began her career, and where she continues it today.
She wrote poetry atfirst, and wrote extensively about the problems
and paradoxes facing Latina women.She notes that her own world is firmly
rooted in two distinct cultures.”I write in English,” she muses, “yet I
write obsessively about my Puerto Rican experience . . . . That is how my
psyche works.I am a composite of two worlds” (“Hispanic Writers”).While
Cofer grew up in the United States, she often returned to her grandmother’s
house in Puerto Rico with her mother, and so, she balances the Latina
customs and culture of her youth with the culture of America, thus her
feeling she is a composite.Cofer has taught at a variety of schools and
universities, and she frequently travels to discuss her work and her
culture.She also frequently teaches at writers’ workshops.One
biographer notes, “Her lectures frequently focus on diversity in American
art and culture,” (Abbe) a topic that emerges repeatedly in her poetry such
as “Common Ground.”Currently, she is a Franklin Professor of English and
Creative Writing in the Dep…


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