Campus News Society & Culture

UGA Hargrett Library opens the Judith Ortiz Cofer papers

Athens, Ga. – The papers of Judith Ortiz Cofer, poet, novelist and 2007 inductee into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame, are now open for research at the University of Georgia Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library. The university announced the opening at the annual Georgia Writers Hall of Fame event held at the Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries on Sept. 27.

Cofer, who holds the Regents and Franklin Professor of Creative Writing chair at UGA, has taught literature and creative writing since 1984. A native of Puerto Rico, Cofer, moved to New Jersey with her parents as a child. Many of her poems and essays focus on cultural conflicts of immigrants to the U.S., as well as her experiences as a woman and writer.

Her family moved to Georgia when she was a teenager.

“Judith Cofer’s works represent some of the finest examples of contemporary Georgia writing,” said P. Toby Graham, deputy university librarian and director of the Hargrett Library. “From her papers, scholars and students will glean valuable insights into the process of authorship and the ways that Cofer approaches her art.”

The announcement regarding her papers comes just as a collection of critical essays on her work is being published. Two UGA graduates, Lorraine Lopez (creative writing) and Molly Crumpton (English), edited Rituals of Movement in the Writing of Judith Ortiz Cofer. This is the first book-length collection of scholarship on Cofer’s writing and further establishes her as an important contemporary American author.

Cofer became the first Hispanic to win the O. Henry Award in 1994 for her short story, Nada, published in the Georgia Review.

Her essay collection Woman in Front of the Sun: On Becoming a Writer won the Georgia Writers Association’s 2001 Georgia Author of the Year Award in creative nonfiction, and in 2005 and 2008 the Georgia Center for the Book placed her works on its lists of 25 Books All Georgians Should Read-The Latin Deli in 2005 and The Meaning of Consuelo in 2008.

When her Anisfield-Wolf Award winner prose-poetry narrative The Latin Deli was named one of the 25 books All Georgians Should Read in 2005, Cofer told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “As a Puerto Rican Georgia writer, and as an educator, I feel I can be a model for students and show them there are different ways to be a Georgian.”

Her other published works include four novels: If I Could Fly (2011), Call Me María (2004), The Meaning of Consuelo (2003) and The Line of the Sun (1989), her first work to be published by the University of Georgia Press. One of the earliest featured speakers of the Georgia Council for the Arts’ Georgia Poetry Circuit tour in the late 1980s, Cofer to date has published eight books of poetry, beginning with her chapbook Latin Women Pray (1980) through A Love Story Beginning in Spanish (2005). Examples of her work in other forms of prose and nonfiction include the essay collection Silent Dancing (1990), the prose/poetry The Latin Deli (1993) and her short story collection, An Island Like You. Anticipated among her upcoming works is a work inspired by her life in Georgia, Peach Pit Corazon: Prose and Poetry.

Cofer’s papers consist of 47 boxes of original and published material, including working drafts of novels, poems and essays; notebooks and journals; correspondence; and artwork.

The Judith Ortiz Cofer papers are available for research at the Russell Special Collections Building located at 300 S. Hull Street. For more information, contact the Hargrett Library at 706/542-7123 or see