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Joe Ross


Joe Ross was raised in Scranton, Pennsylvania, later attending Temple University in Philadelphia, where he had intended to study to become a doctor. There he met poet and fiction writer, Toby Olson, who, in turn, introduced him to fellow professor Douglas Messerli. Over the next few years, a close friendship developed between Ross and Messerli, and Ross increasingly focused his activities on writing.

His first book, Guards of the Heart (1990), consisting of four plays in poetic form, was written during this period; and over the next few years Ross continued writing poetry.

He graduated from Temple University, Magna Cum Laude in Psychology in 1983, and moved soon thereafter to Washington, D.C. In Washington, he continued his friendship with Messerli while working as a season ticket supervisor at The John Kennedy Center for Performing Arts.

Ross was extraordinarily active in the cultural scene of Washington, serving as President of the Poetry Committee of The Folger Shakespeare Library Board from 1994-1997 and as the literary editor of the arts bi-monthly The Washington Review. He also founded and directed a reading series, In Your Ear, for the District of Columbia Arts Center.

During these years Ross continued to publish poetry, including How to Write; or, I used to be in love with my jailer (1992), An American Voyage (1993), Push (1994), De-flections (1994); and Full Silence (1995). His poetry revealed close links with the "Language" poets but sought in its often disjunctive structure, puns, and linguistic riddles, to be accessible to a large audience. Many of Ross's poems are subliminally political while concerned with love and interrelations between individuals. The American Voyage, in particular, concerns the idealism of American culture and its failures as a culture to live up to those ideals.

In 1997, he received a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship in Literature and soon thereafter he moved to San Diego, where Ross became the Development Coordinator for The City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture. In 1999 he left that position to serve as Chief of Policy for The City of San Diego Council District Five, and a year later became the Senior Policy Advisor for District One. He was also active in the San Diego cultural scene, serving as a board member of the San Diego Art Institute and co-founding a reading series, Beyond the Page, in that city.

Two more books appeared: The Wood Series (1997) and EQUATIONS=equals (Green Integer, 2004).

In 2004 Ross moved to Paris. Ross's most recent work, Strata, is forthcoming.


Guards of the Heart (Washington, D.C.: Blue Corner Books, 1990); How to Write; or, I used to be in love with my jailer (Norman, Oklahoma: Texture Press, 1992); An American Voyage (Los Angeles: Sun & Moon Press, 1993); Push (Buffalo: Leave Books, 1994); De-flections (Elmwood, Connecticut: Potes and Poets, 1994); Full Silence (Los Angeles: Upper Limit Music, 1995); The Wood Series (Los Angeles: Seeing Eye Books, 1997); EQUATIONS=equals (Green Integer, 2004).

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