Julia Kasdorf, born Julia Spicher, spent her early childhood in Big Valley, a hamlet outside Lewistown, Pennsylvania. Her Mennonite parents, John Spicher and Virginia Spicher, moved to Irwin, a suburb of Pittsburgh, when Julia was still a child. Summers spent with relatives on a traditional Pennsylvania Dutch farm contrasted sharply with the more modern lifestyle she shared with her parents in Irwin during the school year. The tensions between rural and urban life, traditional Mennonite practices and secular society, and spiritual and physical aspects of humanity would be explored at length in her future poetry.
Kasdorf began writing poetry as a young woman. Her desire to be a poet was validated when she received the Scholastic Writing Award in 1981, resulting in publication in the Literary Cavalcade. While still a sophomore at Goshen College in Indiana, Kasdorf, along with Suelyn Lee, published a chapbook of poems, Moss Lotus, under her maiden name Julia Spicher. The collection was inspired by her experiences studying abroad in China.
Kasdorf transferred from Goshen College to New York University, the institution from which she earned three degrees: a B.A. in English, an M.A. in creative writing, and a Ph.D. in English education. While attending school, Kasdorf lived in Brooklyn, New York, moving farther away from her rural Pennsylvania heritage. On July 27, 1986, she married David M. Kasdorf, a fellow teacher and artist....
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