Fisher-Wirth, Ann 1947–

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Fisher-Wirth, Ann 1947–

(Ann W. Fisher-Wirth, Ann Carolyn Welpton)


Born January 25, 1947, in Washington, DC; married John Fisher, 1968 (divorced); married Peter Wirth, 1983; children: Pascale Elizabeth, Jessica Margaret, Lucas John, Caleb Fisher-Wirth (second marriage), Rebecca Wirth (stepdaughter). Education: Pomona College, B.A. (magna cum laude), 1968; Claremont Graduate School, Ph.D., 1982.


Home—Oxford, MS. Office—Department of English, University of Mississippi, Bondurant C212, P.O. Box 1848, University, MS 38677-1848. E-mail—[email protected].


Poet, educator. International School of Liege, Liege, Belgium, teacher, 1968-71; University of Virginia, Charlottesville, assistant professor of English, 1981-88; University of Mississippi at Oxford, professor of English, 1988—; University of Fribourg, Switzerland, Fulbright Senior Lecturer, 1994-95; Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden, Fulbright Distinguished Chair in American Studies, 2002-03.


William Carlos Williams and Autobiography: The Woods of His Own Nature, Pennsylvania State University Press (University Park, PA), 1989.


Blue Window: Poems, Archer Books (Los Angeles, CA), 2003.

Corvus: Poems, Wind (Lexington, KY), 2003.

The Trinket Poems (chapbook), Wind Publications (Nicholasville, KY), 2003.

Five Terraces, Wind Publications (Nicholasville, KY), 2005.

Contributor to journals, including Georgia Review, Kenyon Review, Feminist Studies, ISLE, Southwest Review, Valparaiso Review, Flyway, and the Florida Review.


Ann Fisher-Wirth was born January 25, 1947, in Washington, DC, but soon moved with her family when her father, who was in the United States Army, was transferred to Germany. After three years, they returned to the United States, this time settling in Pennsylvania. In 1955, they moved to Camp Zama, Japan, and then in 1957, when Fisher-Wirth's father retired, they settled in Berkeley, California, which ultimately became home. Fisher-Wirth earned her undergraduate degree magna cum laude from Pomona College, and then moved yet again—this time with new husband John Fisher, to Belgium, where they spent several years teaching at the International School of Liege. When they returned to California, Fisher-Wirth earned her doctorate from Claremont College, with a focus on English and American literature, particularly poetry. Over the course of her career, she has served as a professor of English at the University of Virginia and the University of Mississippi, during which time she was also honing her writing skills and publishing her poetry in various journals, including Georgia Review, Kenyon Review, Feminist Studies, ISLE, Southwest Review, Valparaiso Review, Flyway, and the Florida Review.

Fisher-Wirth's first book, however, is not a work of poetry, but instead of criticism, and grew out of the work she did for her dissertation, William Carlos Williams and Autobiography: The Woods of His Own Nature. However, it is through her poetry that she truly shines. Blue Window: Poems, her first collection, contains a series of works that very much reflect Fisher-Wirth's personal ideals and imagery, as well as her life experiences, each ringing with emotion. Some reflect feelings regarding her parents, while others are less about people than about places and/or moments, such as her feelings whenever she returns to California, the state she still considers to be her true, spiritual home. Other poems touch on the intimacy and love she shares with her husband, or her relationship with her children. One segment of the book contains poems that address Fisher-Wirth's feelings about Mississippi, and include strong imagery of the nature that she feels represents a large share of her vision of the state. Mixed in with these poems, however, are works that address more serious issues, such as racism and discrimination, and how alone one can feel when forced into isolation by another person's harsh opinions. Courtney Rowe, in a review for the Starkville High School Web site, wrote: ‘Ann Fisher-Wirth speaks of modern issues that are real and present in most people's lives in some way. Along with the stirring messages, the tonality of the words she chooses are lush and poignant.’ Diane Lockward, writing for the Valparaiso Poetry Review Web site, commented that ‘Fisher-Wirth smacks you with one hand, then comforts you with the other—a bad combination in a parent or a lover, but an ideal one in a poet. We never know what to expect. Boldness is countered by tenderness, brutality by beauty, and destruction by healing.’ She went on to conclude that the book ‘is written with both a first-rate intelligence and a fierce passion. These poems do what poems ought to do: they make us think and feel."

Fisher-Wirth's next full-length collection of poetry is Five Terraces, a volume divided into five groupings of poems, each divided by the ‘Walking Wu-Wei's Scroll,’ a terrace-like piece that always contains the same words and phrases, but rearranges the order for each introduction. In comparison to her earlier work, Fisher-Wirth tackles more difficult ideas, touching on mutilation that suggests a cancer survivor, a woman with a much younger lover, and passion of all kinds. Claire Keyes, in a review for the Wellesley Centers for Women Web site, concluded that she ‘revels in the particular, be it bacalao, the body of her beloved, or Kali. She is not ‘afraid to sink.’ In that sinking she embraces what we recognize as the fullness of human experience. The openness of her stance is both heroic and inspiring."



American Literature, June, 1990, Carol Donley, review of William Carlos Williams and Autobiography: The Woods of His Own Nature, p. 350.

Contemporary Literature, spring, 1991, Vernon Hyles, review of William Carlos Williams and Autobiography.

Modern Language Review, July, 1991, Richard Gray, review of William Carlos Williams and Autobiography, p. 684.

Reference & Research Book News, October, 1989, review of William Carlos Williams and Autobiography, p. 30.


Blackbird, (November 7, 2007), author profile.

Fieralingue, (November 7, 2007), author profile.

Pulse, (November 7, 2007), Carol Willette Bachofner, review of Blue Window: Poems; Sherry Chandler, review of The Trinket Poems.

Southeast Review, (November 7, 2007), interview with Ann Fisher-Wirth.

Starkville High School Web site, (November 7, 2007), Ann Fisher-Wirth, ‘A Mississippi Writers and Musicians Project of Starkville High School"; Courtney Rowe, review of Blue Window.

University of Mississippi Department of English Web site, (November 7, 2007), faculty profile.

Valparaiso Poetry Review, (November 7, 2007), Diane Lockward, review of Blue Window.

Wellesley Centers for Women, (November 7, 2007), Claire Keyes, review of Five Terraces.