(in the style of articles in Seventeen)
When Professor Judith Ortiz Cofer, wearing a bold red sweater and a swishy black skirt drive up, I could hear Santana's latest blasting out of her car as she bounced in time to the beat. But she did not always dance so openly. In her high school years, Judith hung out at home with her family. "Dating was out of the question," she recalled as she spoke of her father, a Navy man. "I wanted to be friends with boys, but there was always someone hovering, a brother or a nun."
(I did the Alumni High School Magazine.)
The empty classroom echoed as I sat down to talk to Judith Ortiz Cofer
about how her high school experience influenced her career choice to become
a writer and teacher. High school classrooms may seem like unlikely places
in which students are inspired to make career decisions. Cofer was one of
the lucky ones. Deciding that her most interesting teachers were her English
teachers, Cofer decided to become one herself. Later in life she realized
that she could write and thus became a writer. Growing up with a father in
the military, Cofer found comfort in books, always wanted to be surrounded
by them, and now provides treasures of her own for other lovers of story
and written work.
(I chose Teen Magazine. I know that that wasn't one of the choices, but it's
one my students read. It's called Idol.)
Well, I just spotted my idol, the famous poet and author Judith Ortiz Cofer in the ladies' room at a hotel in Baltimore. She was glorious and glitzy and gorgeous, adjusting her silky hair in front of the mirror. I thought, "Oh, if I could be that poised." But imagine my surprise when I hear that Ortiz Cofer was not always so confident in front of the mirror. She idolized Audrey Hepburn as a teen, merely because of the actress' skinny frame and flat-chestedness. Cofer, it appears, chose her teen idol to deflect her own imperfections.
(Charles Ellenbogen. Rolling Stone)
Dressed in Johnny Cash black, Judith Ortiz Cofer, a self-described lonely girl flips past the salsa CDs her mother persistently sends her from Puerto Rico, lovingly fingers Santana's Supernatural and family friends which she's looking for. The anthemic chords of Bruce Springsteen's Born In The USA (both talking-laughter), she turns with a kind of Hepburnness, Aud uh, Audrey (laughter-unclear) captured and begins describing her strict Catholic upbringing and her family parties and how these sticking together with their fascinating literature and writing teachers turned into the writer and teacher she is today. "It was Isak Dinesen, I think. I wanted to write like her. I remember the first time I read Out Of Africa. It changed my life."