Desiree Cooper

A 2015 Kresge Artist Fellow, Desiree Cooper is a former attorney, Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalist and community activist. She is an evocative speaker on the themes of racial and gender equality, reproductive freedom, family-positive public policy and the welfare of women and girls. As a full-time caregiver for her aging parents, she writes widely about women, self-care and reinvention. A sought-after creative writing instructor, she conducts readings from her award-winning flash fiction collection, Know the Mother, like an “instant book club.”

Cooper’s fiction, poetry and essays have appeared in The New York Times, 2023 Flash Fiction America, The Best Small Fictions 2018, Callaloo, Michigan Quarterly Review, The Rumpus, River Teeth, and Best African American Fiction 2010, among other publications. Her essay, “We Have Lost Too Many Wigs,” was listed as a notable essay in The Best American Essays 2019. In 2018, she wrote, produced and co-directed “The Choice,” a short film about reproductive rights and recipient of a 2019 Outstanding Achievement Award from the Berlin Flash Film Festival, and Award of Merit from the Best Short Film Festival in Los Angeles.

Cooper’s latest publication is a children’s picture book, Nothing Special, based upon the friendship between her father and grandson. It has earned a starred review from Booklist, inclusion in the New York Public Library’s list of the Top Ten Children’s Books of 2022, and winner of the 2023 Paterson Prize for Books for Young People. She was a founding board member of Cave Canem, a national residency for black poets, and has received residencies at Kimbilio and Ragdale. Having forged a 30-year career in Detroit, she now lives in the Virginia Beach area where she cares for her aging mother and raises her three grandchildren.