Julia Koets

Julia Koets’s poetry collection, Hold Like Owls (University of South Carolina Press), won the 2011 South Carolina Poetry Book Prize judged by National Book Award Winner Nikky Finney, and her memoir-in-essays, The Rib Joint, won the 2017 Red Hen Press Nonfiction Book Award judged by Mark Doty. Her poems and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Indiana ReviewCreative Nonfiction, and the Los Angeles Review. She has an MFA in poetry from the University of South Carolina and a PhD in literature and creative writing from the University of Cincinnati. She currently teaches at Clemson University.

All Books

The Rib Joint

Julia Koets

Publication Date: November 5, 2019

$17.95 Tradepaper

ISBN: 978-1-59709-675-1


In this collection of linked, lyrical essays, Julia Koets writes, “When you date in secret, the pressure is different. You’re weightless. You’re stuck in between jumping and landing. You exist in midair. Your bones start to thin.” Growing up in a small town in the South, Julia and her childhood best friend, Laura, know the church as well as they know each other’s bodies—the California-shaped scar on Julia’s right knee, the tapered thinness of Laura’s fingers, the circumference of each other’s ponytails. When Laura’s family moves away in middle school and Julia gets a crush on the new priest’s daughter at their church, Julia starts to more fully realize the consequences of being anything but straight in the South. After college, when Julia and her best friend Kate wait tables at a rib joint in Julia’s hometown, they are forced to face the price of the secrets they’ve kept—from their families, each other, and themselves.


“Engaging, poignant, and at times wryly humorous, this book explores gender and identity through the eyes of a sensitive and perceptive young woman growing up in the South. Julia Koets writes with vulnerability, warmth, and a lyrical style that pulls the reader straight through to the end.”—Kristen Iversen, author of Full Body Burden


Julia Koets’ THE RIB JOINT featured in LGBTQ Reading List

Where you live inevitably affects your life experience: our mental maps of reality depend on our space, and what one sees as possible or allowed depends on that space as well, especially in the formative years of our lives. In her memoir in essays, Koets details her life growing up in a heavily religious, and […]

Local Author Julia Koets Talks About Her Recent Memoir

Author Julia Koets, who holds a doctorate from the University of Cincinnati, released The Rib Joint: A Memoir in Essays this past November. She joins our contributor (and former classmate) Kelly Blewitt to talk about growing up and coming of age in the South. Listen to the radio segment here!

C-Ville: Taking covers: Your social distancing reading list

With the cancellation of the Virginia Festival of the Book, and recommendations to practice social distancing, there’s never been a better time to pick up some extra reading material. While we’re disappointed that we won’t get to hear from these authors in person, their work and words are still well worth your time. Whether you’re […]


Throwback to the Brevity Nonfiction review of Julia Koets’ THE RIB JOINT!

The lyric essay form, reliant on gaps and fragmentation, beautifully aligns with Koets’ own experience of compression and expansion, as her narrator moves from a closeted existence to one of self-acceptance and personal liberation. Her memoir demonstrates the profound costs of rejection, silencing, and exclusion within powerful social systems, where love and inclusion often hinge […]