Darr, Ann 1920-2007 (Ann Russell Darr, Lois Ann Russell)

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Darr, Ann 1920-2007 (Ann Russell Darr, Lois Ann Russell)


See index for CA sketch: Born March 13, 1920, in Bagley, IA; died December 2, 2007, in Chicago, IL. Poet, pilot, broadcaster, and educator. Darr once told CA that the overriding theme of her writings—and her life—was flight, "flight in all of its meanings." Darr began writing poetry in earnest in 1950 and published several collections of verse. She taught classes at American University and Georgetown University, and at several workshops and artists' colonies. Her work as a poet and academic paled, however, next to the adventurous life she led during a brief period in the 1940s, while serving as a pilot in the fledgling Women Airforce Service Pilots. This interlude, brief as it was, reportedly colored her outlook on life and reflected itself in her poetry. Darr was working as a radio personality in New York City, hosting and writing a daily program for women, when World War II broke out. In 1942 the United States established a civilian women aviation service, under the direction of the U.S. Army Air Forces, that would fly training and support missions to free male pilots for combat. Candidates were promised military commissions at some future date (though, as it turned out, the program was disbanded before the promise could be fulfilled). Darr was one of only 1,000 women selected for this service, and she served for two years. Though her assignments were classified as routine and domestic, she experienced her share of excitement and danger, and the memories stayed with her forever; eventually, in 1977, she and the other surviving female aviators were formally acknowledged as military veterans. Darr published several poetry collections, including The Myth of a Woman's Fist (1973), Cleared for Landing (1978), Riding with the Fireworks (1981), Flying the Zuni Mountains (1994), and Love in the Past Tense (2000).



Washington Post, December 11, 2007, p. B7.