48 pages 1 hour read

Judith Ortiz Cofer

Silent Dancing: A Partial Remembrance Of A Puerto Rican Childhood

Nonfiction | Biography | Adult | Published in 1990

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Key Figures

Judith Ortiz Cofer

Judith Ortiz Cofer is the author of Silent Dancing, a creative memoir centered on her adolescence spent between Puerto Rico and Paterson, New Jersey. Cofer was born in Puerto Rico in 1952. Her family moved to Paterson in 1956 for her father’s career in the US Navy but moved back and forth over the years. Cofer’s recollections in these settings lay the groundwork for the book’s central themes, namely the sense of dislocation and displacement that can arise from biculturalism and bilingualism, the tension in living between Puerto Rican culture and US culture, and the ways these cultures shape women’s roles in society and their ideas of what womanhood means. Cofer’s memories inform all these themes, but she is less concerned with a strictly factual reconstruction of the past than a poetic, emotionally resonate depiction of the truth.

Cofer’s personal experiences as Puerto Rican American greatly influenced her literary career, which resulted in award-winning works spanning creative nonfiction, poetry, essays, short stories, and novels. Cofer spoke both Spanish and English, and language is a recurrent theme in her work. In addition to writing, Cofer taught as a bilingual public school teacher before becoming a professor at the University of Georgia, where she taught for 26 years before retiring in 2013.