Ruth Ellen Kocher

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Ruth Ellen Kocher (born July 26, 1965 Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania) is an American poet. She is the recipient of the PEN/Open Book, Dorset Prize, Green Rose Prize in Poetry, and Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award.


Ruth Ellen Kocher (1965-) is an American poet and author of domina Un/blued (Tupelo Press 2013), One Girl Babylon (New Issues Press 2003), When the Moon Knows You’re Wandering, 2002 Winner of the Green Rose Prize in Poetry (New Issues Press 2002),[1] and Desdemona’s Fire winner of the 1999 Naomi Long Madget Award for African American Poets (Lotus Press 1999). Her poems have been translated into Persian in the Iranian literary magazine She’r and have appeared or are forthcoming in various anthologies including, Angles of Ascent: A Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American Poetry, Black Nature, From the Fishouse: An Anthology of Poems that Sing, Rhyme, Resound, Syncopate, Alliterate, and Just Plain Sound Great, An Anthology for Creative Writers: The Garden of Forking Paths, IOU: New Writing On Money, New Bones: Contemporary Black Writing in America. Her work has been published in numerous journals. Her collaborative scholarly work on Frederick Douglass (Miller, Keith D., and Ruth Ellen Kocher. “Shattering Kidnapper's Heavenly Union: Interargumentation in Douglass's Oratory and Narrative.” Hall 1999. 81-87.) has become a staple pedagogical text in slave narrative studies.

Her collection, domina Un/blued won the Dorset Prize in 2010 and was published in 2013.[2] Reviewing the collection in Prairie Schooner in 2014, Parneisha Jones, singled out for praise Kocher's creative use of the page design, writing, "The attention to form and placement adds another important layer to the collection."[3]

Kocher earned her B.A. from Pennsylvania State University in 1990, her MFA from Arizona State University in 1994, and her Ph.D. from Arizona State University in 1999. She has taught at Missouri Western State College, Southern Illinois University and the University of Missouri.[4]

Her career has divided between scholarly research and her work as a poet. Kocher feels that each activity informs and enriches the other.[5] She has been awarded fellowships from the Cave Canem Foundation,[6] the Bucknell Seminar for Younger Poets, and Yaddo.[7] She has taught for the University of Missouri, Southern Illinois University, the New England College Low Residency MFA program, the Indiana Summer Writer’s workshop, and Washington University’s Summer Writing program.

She professor of English literature in the Department of English at the University of Colorado-Boulder and where she also serves as Associate Dean for Arts and Humanities.[8]


  • 2014 PEN/Open Book, domina Un/blued[9][10]
  • 2010 Dorset Prize, domina Un/blued[2]
  • 2002 Green Rose Prize in Poetry, When the Moon Knows You're Wandering[1]
  • 1999 Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award, Desdemona's Fire[11]


  • "Alice Coltrane and Discovers the World G/god is B/born", Blackbird, Fall 2009
  • "string theory", Blackbird, Fall 2009
  • One Girl Babylon (New Issues Press, 2003) ISBN 978-1-930974-33-3
  • When the Moon Knows You're Wandering (New Issues Press, 2002) ISBN 978-1-930974-11-1
  • Desdemona's Fire (Lotus Press, 1999) ISBN 978-0-916418-83-0


  • Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American Poets. Charles Rowell, ed. Forthcoming.
  • IOU: New Writing On Money. Ron Slate, ed. [Concord Free Press], Forthcoming.
  • Black Nature. Camille T. Dungy, ed. [University of Georgia Press], Athens Georgia, 2009.
  • From the Fishouse: An Anthology of Poems that Sing, Rhyme, Resound, Syncopate, Alliterate, and Just Plain Sound Great. Camille T. Dungy, Matt O'Donnell, & Jeffrey Thomson eds., Gerald Stern (Foreword), [Persea Books], NY, New York, 2009.
  • The McSweeney’s Book of: Poets Picking Poets, Dominic Luxford, ed. [McSweeney’s Books]: San Francisco, 2007.
  • An Anthology of Creative Writer Garden of Forking Paths. Beth Anstanding and Eric Killough, eds. [Prentice Hall], 2006.
  • Commonwealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania. Marjorie Maddox, Jerry Wemple eds. Pennsylvania State University Press, 2005.
  • New Bones: Contemporary Black Writers in America. Kevin Quashie, Keith Miller, Joyce Lausch, eds. [Prentice Hall], 2000.


  1. ^ a b "ONE GIRL BABYLON BY RUTH ELLEN KOCHER". New Issues Press. WESTERN MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY. Fall 2003. Retrieved 20 December 2017.
  2. ^ a b Hartig, Jean (1 November 2011). "Tupelo Press: Dorset Prize". Poets & Writers Magazine. 39 (6). Retrieved 20 December 2017.
  3. ^ Jones, Parneisha (Spring 2014). "Hemming the Water by Yona Harvey, and: The Vital System by CM Burroughs, and: domina Un/blued by Ruth Ellen Kocher". Prairie Schooner. 88 (1): 177–180. doi:10.1353/psg.2014.0009.
  4. ^ GoogleBooks > Writing African American Women: K-Z > by Elizabeth Ann Beaulieu > Ruth Ellen Kocher Biography
  5. ^ Rowell, Charles, Henry (Fall 2004). ""WITHIN A FIELD OF KNOWING": An Interview with Ruth Ellen Kocher". Callaloo. Johns Hopkins University Press. 27 (4): 931–944.
  6. ^ "Fellows Profiles". Cave Canem Foundation. Cave Canem Foundation, Inc. Retrieved 20 December 2017.
  7. ^ Yaddo. "Yaddo Alumni". Yaddo. Corporation of Yaddo. Retrieved 20 December 2017.
  8. ^ Academic Profile. "Ruth Ellen Kocher". University of Colorado-Boulder. Regents of the University of Colorado. Retrieved 20 December 2017.
  9. ^ Ron Charles (July 30, 2014). "Winners of the 2014 PEN Literary Awards". Washington Post. Retrieved August 1, 2014.
  10. ^ "2014 PEN Open Book Award". Retrieved August 1, 2014.
  11. ^ Ramsby II, Howard (December 12, 2015). "Black Women, Poetry, Awards & Fellowships, 1975-2015". Cultural Front. Howard Ramsby II. Retrieved 20 December 2017.

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