Joseph Ross is the author of four books of poetry: Raising King (2020), Ache (2017), Gospel of Dust (2013), and Meeting Bone Man (2012). His poetry has appeared in a wide variety of publications including The New York Times Sunday Magazine, The Los Angeles Times, The Southern Quarterly, Xavier Review, Poet Lore, Tidal Basin Review, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, and Sojourners. His work appears in many anthologies including What Saves Us: Poems of Empathy and Outrage in the Age of Trump, edited by Martin Espada. His poems also appear in Collective Brightness, Poetic Voices without Borders 1 and 2, Full Moon on K Street, and Come Together; Imagine Peace. He served as the 23rd Poet-in-Residence for the Howard County Poetry and Literature Society, just outside Washington, D.C. He is a seven-time Pushcart Prize nominee, most recently for “The Mountain Top,” from Raising King. His poem “If Mamie Till Was the Mother of God” won the 2012 Pratt Library/Little Patuxent Review Poetry Prize. As a teacher and writer, Ross was awarded the University of Notre Dame’s Reinhold Niebuhr Award in 1997 and the William A. Toohey, C.S.C. Award in 1993. In 2006, he was awarded Teacher of the Year by the senior class at Carroll High School in Washington, D.C. In 2020, he delivered the Robert L. Giron Global Humanities Lecture for Montgomery College, Takoma Park, Maryland. The lecture was titled: “Literature Consoles and Confronts: When Poetry Is a Tool for Justice.”
My first two books, Meeting Bone Man, (2012) and Gospel of Dust, (2013) were published by Main Street Rag Publishing. My third collection, Ache, (2017) was published by Sibling Rivalry Press. Raising King, my fourth collection of poems, was published by Willow Books on September 15, 2020. Raising King explores the life and work of Martin Luther King, Jr. through poems responding to his writing in Stride Toward Freedom, Why We Can’t Wait, and Where do We Go from Here?
I’m grateful that many individual poems have been published in many places, including The Southern Quarterly, The Los Angeles Times, Xavier Review, Southern Quarterly, Arkansas Review, Valley Voices, and in a wide variety of anthologies, including What Saves Us: Poems of Empathy and Outrage in the Age of Trump, edited by Martin Espada, The Night’s Magician: Poems about the Moon, edited by Philip C. Kolin, Collective Brightness: LGBTIQ Poets on Faith Religion and Spirituality, edited by Kevin Simmonds, Poetic Voices Without Borders 1 and 2, edited by Robert Giron, Full Moon on K Street, edited by Kim Roberts, and Come Together-Imagine Peace, edited by Phil Metres, Ann and Larry Smith. My poems have also appeared in many journals including Poet Lore, Tidal Basin Review, Drumvoices Revue, Ibbetson Street, Word as Bond, Words. Beats. Life: The Global Journal of Hip Hop Culture, and Sojourners.
I was born in Pomona, California, just outside of Los Angeles. After studying English at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, I taught high school in Southern California and then went on to receive an M.Div. at the University of Notre Dame. I taught in Notre Dame’s Freshmen Writing Program before moving to Washington, D.C. in 2000, where I founded the Writing Center at Carroll High School, taught at American University, and currently teach in the Department of English at Gonzaga College High School. (Photo Credit above: J. Bigwood)
An early member of D.C. Poets Against the War, I co-edited Cut Loose The Body: An Anthology of Poems on Torture and Fernando Botero’s Abu Ghraib. My co-editor on this project was poet and writer Rose Marie Berger.
I have read around the country including at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Also at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Pratt Library in Baltimore, Maryland, Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Indiana, the University of Delaware, D.G. Wills Bookstore in La Jolla, California, The Blackbird Poetry Festival at Howard Community College in Maryland, and Dog Star Books in Reading, Pennsylvania. I’ve participated in several Visiting Writers’ Series including those at the University of Portland in Oregon and in the VOICES Reading Series, founded by Lucille Clifton at St. Mary’s College of Maryland.
I’m grateful to the editors of Poet Lore, Tidal Basin Review, Little Patuxent Review, Fledgling Rag, Sligo, and ArLiJo who nominated my poems for Pushcart Prizes. Their encouragement and confidence means a great deal to me. I’m also grateful to the editors at Little Patuxent Review and staff at Baltimore’s Pratt Library for awarding their 2012 poetry prize to my poem “If Mamie Till Was the Mother of God.”