Judith Minty was born in Detroit in 1937. She attended Michigan State University and received a BS in Speech from Ithaca College in New York in 1957. After marrying Edgar Minty and starting a family, she earned an MA in English from Western Michigan University in 1974. Later that year she published her first book, Lake Songs and Other Fears, which won the United States Award of the International Poetry Forum. Some of her other awards include the John Atherton Fellowship to Bread Loaf, the Eunice Tietjens Award from Poetry magazine, two Michigan Council for the Arts Creative Artists’ Grants, two PEN Syndicated Fiction Awards, and an honorary doctorate from Michigan Technological University.
Minty is the author of four other full-length collections of poetry: Yellow Dog Journal (1979, reprint 1991); In the Presence of Mothers (1981); Dancing the Fault (1991); Walking with the Bear (2000). Her published chapbooks are: Letters to My Daughters (1980); Counting the Losses (1986); The Mad Painter Poems (1996); Killing the Bear (2011). She has also contributed poetry, fiction, and non-fiction articles and essays to numerous periodicals and anthologies.
Minty served as professor and director of the Creative Writing Program at Humboldt State University in Arcata, California from 1982 until 1993. Prior to that, she was a visiting professor at several universities. She has given poetry readings and writing workshops at colleges and universities throughout the country, including Michigan State University.
For many years she has lived in New Era, Michigan, on the shore of Lake Michigan. She also spent much time at a remote cabin her family owned on the Yellow Dog River in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The natural world is a primary inspiration and theme for much of her poetry. Her solitary time at Yellow Dog was particularly influential. As Anne-Marie Oomen writes, in her forward to Killing the Bear:
Her work is totemic and lives in the place where wild spirit meets waking world, where human logic gives way to creature logic, where the fantastic climbs out on a limb and sits, growling, next to a practical woman also out on a limb.
Through her attention to the relationship of herself to others and to the world around her, Minty crafted poetry that created its own world, transformative yet bound to reality, and always aware of the responsibility to be alive to the moment at hand. In her poem, “Christine, On Her Way to China: An Earthquake Poem,” from Dancing the Fault, Minty ends with the lines:
Someone told me once how he’d been standing in a valley
felt the tremble, and watched the fields roll like ocean waves.
I thought, even then, how we are planted here how ordinary our lives are, how we must
make adventure from these briefest shifts and passings.