Ann Fisher-Wirth

recorded in Oxford, MS


Ann Fisher-Wirth

I’m Ann Fisher-Wirth, I live in Oxford, Mississippi. I’ve lived here since 1988, before that, in Charlottesville, Virginia, and before that, in southern California. I was an Army brat as a little kid, so I lived in D.C., Germany, Pennsylvania, Japan, and then my family settler in Berkley, California, where I went to high school and college. Well no, I went to high school in Berkley, and then college in southern California. And then I started moving around after that. So what would you like to talk about?

Knox Writers’ House

Yeah, so where to jump in? What is environmental poetry?


Ah, good question. Well, I am in the process of co-editing a really exciting anthology that’s going to come out in about a year and a half, called Eco Poetry: A Contemporary American Anthology. And Trinity University Press is going to publish it, my co-editor is Laura-Gray Street, and the publisher is Barbara Ras. All three of us are poets and all three of us write, among other things, poetry that could be called ecopoetry. Ecopoetry is poetry that in one way or another takes really seriously the relationship between humans and the non-human world. That’s sort of a short definition of ecoliterature all together. Oh gosh, it’s really complicated to talk about. Essentially, we’re looking at three huge kinds of poetry in our anthology. One is what we would recognize as nature poetry, not all nature poetry, but a lot of nature poetry, which really honors and seeks to know about and to write about the natural world. There are also ecopoems which can be nature poems which are, let’s say, oriented toward consciousness-raising –a lot of Gary Snyder’s work would be this way –you know, poetry that seeks to instruct readers or make readers aware of environmental issues. For instance, after the BP oil spill. There’s a website called living waters where poets can send poems and a lot of those would be poetry that’s arising from the oil spill, poetry that’s seeking to make readers think about the oil spill. And then a third kind of poetry. The poem that I read for you called “Sudden Music” would be an example, in a way, of the third kind of poetry. It’s poetry that’s really conscious of the contact-zone or the inter-penetrating zone between human language and non-human sound. Or between, let’s say, human consciousness and –it’s really trying to interrogate our nature as human animals, as human consciousnesses, and in a lot of different ways, stretch the borders of we’ve ordinarily thought of as human utterance. So it’s hard to talk about these because they’re big, baggy categories, but there’s a lot of really, really exciting poetry that is being done in this large field.

At The Fishhouses by Elizabeth Bishop

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