Judith Ortíz Cofer was born in Hormigueros, Puerto Rico on February 24, 1952. She was raised on the island and in Paterson, New Jersey, before her family finally settled in Augusta, Georgia. She received her B.A. in English from Augusta College in 1974, and her M.A. in English from Florida Atlantic University, and did graduate work at Oxford University in 1977. Her collections of poetry include: The Year of Our Revolution: New and Selected Stories and Poems (1998), winner of the Paterson Book Prize given by the Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College; The Latin Deli: Prose & Poetry (1993), winner of the Anisfield Wolf Book Award; Terms of Survival (1989), Reaching for the Mainland (1987), and Latin Women Pray (1980). Cofer is also the author of essays, fiction, and prose, and her work has been published in numerous anthologies. Her young adult book An Island Like You: Stories of the Barrio (1996) has received several distinctions, including The American Library Association Reforma Pura Belpre Medal and the Fanfare Best Book of the Year award.
Cofer's awards and honors include grants from the Georgia Council for the Arts and the Witter Bynner Foundation, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts for poetry, the University of Georgia Humanities Center, the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, The Florida Fine Arts Council, and the Janet Rice Memorial Fellowship from Florida Atlantic University. She is currently the Franklin Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Georgia, and an associate staff member of the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference.