The Ofi Press Magazine

International Poetry and Literature from Mexico City

Obituary for John Ross


 By Jack Little, UK/Mexico (Published in Issue 2)

John Ross, poet, author, journalist and social activist who fought against perceived injustice around the world died on January 17th of liver cancer at Lake Patzcuaro in Mexico. He was 72.

Born in New York City on March 11, 1938, to parents who were committed leftists, John Ross grew up in Greenwich Village surrounded by jazz, Beat poetry and radical politics. Mr. Ross authored 10 chapbooks of poetry and 10 books of fiction and nonfiction. He received the American Book Award in 1995 for "Rebellion From the Roots: Zapatista Uprising in Chiapas" and the Upton Sinclair Award in 2005 for "Murdered By Capitalism: 150 Years of Life and Death on the American Left."

John Ross toiled throughout his life for justice. He was the voice for those without a voice. He was jailed for refusing to be drafted in the Vietnam War era and was the first person to chronicle in English the pending uprising of indigenous Zapatistas in Mexico's Chiapas state. He also went to the dusty streets of Iraq on the eve of the U.S. invasion in 2003 to serve as a human shield, although Iraqi officials forced him and other volunteers to leave the country.

His reporting appeared in the San Francisco Examiner, CounterPunch, the San Francisco Bay Guardian, Pacific News Service, Pacifica Radio, LA Weekly and others, including the Mexico City daily La Jornada.

Bruce Brugmann, editor and publisher of the Bay Guardian, called him "a terribly unusual talent" and we at The Ofi Press believe that this writer's fame and role as a major writer in Mexico can only grow in the coming years. RIP.