Contact: JosephRoss20017@gmail.com
For BIOS of varied length, please contact me at the email address above.

On the stoop at Langston Hughes’ house, 127th Street, Harlem, New York City

I believe in the power of poetry to confront us console us. Whether as poets or readers of poetry, this art form can transform us and the world around us, if we engage it.

I am grateful to have authored five books of poetry: Crushed & Crowned (forthcoming in Fall, 2023), Raising King (2020), Ache (2017), Gospel of Dust (2013), and Meeting Bone Man (2012). My poems have 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. My work appears in many anthologies including What Saves Us: Poems of Empathy and Outrage in the Age of Trump, edited by Martin Espada. Over the last several years, my poems also appear in anthologies including Collective Brightness, Poetic Voices without Borders 1 and 2, Full Moon on K Street, and Come Together; Imagine Peace.

In 2014, I served as the 23rd Poet-in-Residence for the Howard County Poetry and Literature Society, just outside Washington, D.C. In that role, I visited all thirteen high schools in the county, giving readings and facilitating workshops. Thanks to kind editors and publishers, my poems have received seven Pushcart Prize nominations, most recently for “The Mountain Top,” from Raising King. My poem “If Mamie Till Was the Mother of God” won the 2012 Pratt Library/Little Patuxent Review Poetry Prize and it received a Special Mention in the 2014 Pushcart Prize Anthology.

As a teacher and writer, I received the University of Notre Dame’s Reinhold Niebuhr Award in 1997 and the William A. Toohey, C.S.C. Award in 1993. In 2006, the senior class at Carroll High School in Washington, D.C. gave me their Teacher of the Year Award. In 2020, it was my honor to deliver 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.” I recently served as the 2021 judge for the Ken Ebert Poetry Prize, sponsored by Iris G. Press and I also currently serve on the Poetry Board at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C.

My work teaching poetry as a tool for learning justice and empathy was featured in America Magazine in January, 2022. You can read the interview/article here.

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 New York Times MagazineThe Southern Quarterly, The Los Angeles Times, Xavier Review, 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)

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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 Lancaster, 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 LoreTidal Basin Review, Little Patuxent Review, Fledgling Rag, Sligo, and ArLiJo who nominated my poems for Pushcart Prizes. My poem, “If Mamie Till Was the Mother of God” received a Special Mention in the 2014 Pushcart Prize Best of the Small Presses Anthology. 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.”


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