Djerassi Resident Artists Program




Workshop Information

Environmental Life Writing:
Poetry and Prose

with Ann Fisher-Wirth

Writing Your

with Jane Vandenburgh

2017 Environmental Life Writing: Poetry and Prose

with Ann Fisher-Wirth

A workshop in environmental life writing, or place-based autobiography, offering the pleasures of discovering the profound embeddedness of the self in its world. It is envisioned as a hybrid, combining readings in literature with a creative writing workshop; participants may write either creative nonfiction essays or prose poems, focusing on the interrelationship between the self and the environment. Includes up to 25 pages of manuscript review in the workshop and up to 25 in private consultation; critique of longer manuscripts is available for an additional fee. Applicants accepted pending review of writing samples by Ann Fisher-Wirth.

Workshop Dates: Sunday, January 15 – Saturday, January 21, 2017
Wednesday, November 30
Wednesday, December 7

Application fee: $10

Workshop fee: $1500/$1850 private room, shared bath/private room and bath
Special couples rate: $1250 each (shared room/bed)
Includes 6 nights lodging, all food, and local transportation from and to the San Francisco Airport.
$500 due by Wednesday, December 14, 2016 (Deposits holds your place and are non-refundable)
Final payment: due by Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Application Process:
Step 1: You will first need to register at the online application portal
Step 2: Applications for the workshop can be accessed through this link:
or by clicking on the APPLY button on the top left of this page.

Application materials requested

  • 2017 Ann Fisher-Wirth Workshop Application Form
  • A short statement about what you hope to gain from this workshop and what writing experience and classes you have taken before, if any.
  • A writing sample of 10-15 pages, either creative nonfiction essay or prose poetry.

Ann Fisher-Wirth
is coeditor of the groundbreaking The Ecopoetry Anthology, published by Trinity University Press in 2013. Her fourth book of poems, Dream Cabinet, was published by Wings Press in 2012. Her other books of poems are Carta Marina, Blue Window, and Five Terraces, and the chapbooks The Trinket Poems, Walking Wu-Wei’s Scroll, and Slide Shows. She has had residencies in poetry from the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, the Mesa Refuge, Hedgebrook, the Nebraska Summer Writers Conference, and CAMAC: Centre d’Art Marnay. Her poems appear widely and have received numerous awards, including a Malahat Review Long Poem Prize, the Rita Dove Poetry Award, the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Poetry Award, two Mississippi Arts Commission fellowships, and thirteen Pushcart nominations including a Special Mention.

Ann directs the Environmental Studies program at the University of Mississippi, and has frequently taught environmental life writing courses in conjunction with the program. A Professor of English, she teaches creative writing workshops and literature seminars in the MFA program as well. She was named Liberal Arts Outstanding Teacher of the Year for 2005-06 and was UM Humanities Teacher of the Year for 2006-07, an honor co-sponsored by the Mississippi Humanities Council and the College of Liberal Arts. In 2014 she received the Elsie M. Hood Award as the outstanding teacher at the University of Mississippi.

Ann has had a senior Fulbright lectureship to the University of Fribourg, Switzerland, and has held the Fulbright Distinguished Chair in American Literature at Uppsala University, Sweden. In 2006 she was President of the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment. A 200-hour RYT with Yoga Alliance, she currently teaches yoga at Southern Star Yoga Studio in Oxford, MS. Ann has just been named a 2015-2018 Fellow of the Black Earth Institute, an international organization based in Wisconsin and dedicated to the arts, social justice and environmental issues, and questions of the

“The artist residencies I’ve had, including a month in 2005 at the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, have immeasurably enriched my life and my writing. I’d love to offer similarly rewarding retreat and workshop experiences—and specifically, to help participants explore the richness and complexity of their interrelations (past, present, and future) with the other-than-human environment.”

What to Expect:
This week will offer a chance for serious writers to begin or continue work on pieces of environmental life writing—whether those take the form of creative nonfiction essays or prose poems—and also to read and discuss short works by various prominent writers in the field of environmental literature.

We will meet each morning for workshop, where we will critique the work that has been submitted ahead of time. (The pages for workshop will be distributed online a month ahead of time, so there will be time to read and prepare comments before arriving at Djerassi.) Also, however, we will engage in various exercises designed to generate new writing each day.

Each writer will have a private conference with Ann. The number of pages to be critiqued in this conference will vary according to whether they are prose or prose poetry; it takes more time to critique the highly compressed writing of prose poetry than the lengthier but more relaxed narrative of prose.

In the afternoons, you will have time for new writing or exploring Djerassi. I’ll offer yoga classes for those who are interested. Some evenings, we will have readings, discussions, or other activities.

For an additional fee, writers may receive a full manuscript critique with Ann. Once accepted to the workshop, more details about these manuscript consultations will be sent to you.


Testimonials from Ann’s workshop at the Djerassi Resident Artists Program:

Ann’s teaching [is] very knowledgeable, very practical and applicable—I can’t wait to rewrite. The workshop at Djerassi braided together the perfect combination of circumstances for the creative process. I had the chance to be surrounded by a diverse group of talented writers eager to explore and discuss one another's work. Ann guided our discussions with the experience of a seasoned teacher and the insight of an accomplished writer. The workshop was wonderful—I learned so much from Ann Fisher-Wirth and from the other writers, and I can’t imagine a more lovely setting in which to do this kind of work.
— Susan Carlson

Ann did a great job facilitating productive, thoughtful critiques. She is an incredible teacher and nurturer. This workshop was an intensive and fully immersive experience. In her teaching and facilitating, Ann achieved a perfect balance of constructive and practical criticism, helpful guidance, and support. As an amateur writer, I had the opportunity to learn a great deal from Ann and the fellow writers and cherished the time and inspiration to write. The impact of this workshop will resonate in my writing forever.
— Meredith Jacobson

I have gained by having attended and listened closely during the Ann Fisher-Wirth workshop at the ranch. It was a good decision to go, and the outcome has been a strong sense of possibilities and a push forward with my book. I'm working hard at it. When I need a break I close my eyes and scan the images of the changing climate each hour of each day on the mountainside. The views are burned into my memory as indelibly as the passion I have to finish the manuscript.
— Kinney Thiele

This was an amazing workshop: place and people and time to write and share. I still feel the breeze from the ocean coming over the green hills. I will be back.
— Arlene Plevin

The five days we spent at Djerassi with Ann Fisher-Wirth directing our writing projects were amazing and so rewarding. We wrote overlooking the most beautiful vistas of the Pacific Ocean, with sunsets in seventeen shades of red, orange, and peach. We used our breaks to write and to wander the trails meandering about the acres of property, which provided inspiration at every turn. The dinners prepared by the Djerassi chef were as good as those at many fine dining restaurants. But the maraschino cherry on top of these delights was the teaching and guidance of our professor and guide, Ann Fisher-Wirth. Whether we were writing poetry, memoir, or creative nonfiction essays related to the environment, Ann was there, offering assistance, suggestions, and prodding us to stretch a bit more. I would happily return for another week at Djerassi with her and the lovely locale.
— Marcia Newlands

…and from her classes at the University of Mississippi:

—I can't say enough how wonderful this course was—one of those courses that permanently transforms your world-view. Dr. Fisher-Wirth is one of those rare professors who not only imparts a deep passion for the material, but who provides a space of academic rigor coupled with exploratory freedom, in which each student can plumb the depths of idea and truth and discover new regions of themselves and thought. Thanks for such a wonderful experience!

—She is an amazing professor who loves students and the world.

—Ann Fisher-Wirth is not only a brilliant professor and poet, she is also a kind and nurturing person. She knows literature up and down, and always finds a way to draw the class into that special, intimate space where everyone is on the same level equally awed and inspired by the words coming through her from her life, learning and experiences.

—Dr. Fisher-Wirth is the most engaging professor that I've ever had. She holds her students to a very high standard, and we are all the better for it.

—There are not enough good things to say about Dr. Fisher-Wirth or her class. She truly engages the material. She is challenging, but encouraging enough that the challenge is actually kind of fun. The course readings are fantastic as well!

—Prof. Fisher-Wirth is an enthusiastic, energetic instructor. She has a passion for her teaching and for her craft that was evident at every class meeting. I truly wish that every student at the University could experience one of her courses, as it would not only enhance their academic experience, but it would make them a better person.

And a news release: Ann Fisher-Wirth Named Teacher of the Year

After more than 25 years teaching poetry, creative writing, environmental literature and more, Ann Fisher-Wirth has won a bevy of teaching and professional awards, but the popular University of Mississippi faculty member admits to being “flabbergasted” when Chancellor Dan Jones introduced her during the 71st annual Honors Day Convocation as the recipient of the university-wide 2014 Elsie M. Hood Outstanding Teaching Award.

She was named the Liberal Arts Outstanding Teacher of the Year for 2005-06 and the UM Humanities Teacher of the Year for 2006-07, an honor co-sponsored by the Mississippi Humanities Council and the College of Liberal Arts. She was a senior Fulbright lecturer at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland, and held the Fulbright Distinguished Chair of American Studies at Uppsala University in Sweden.

One student noted that her “presentation of the material was among the most elegant and profound I have ever experienced, with the result that my notes look like refined prose and, at times, like poetry.” A nomination letter from one student notes that “she seems to be teaching a way of living: by learning about the natural world and the people in it (we too are essentially natural), we begin to understand our places in the world and ultimately lead more fulfilled lives.” Another student, who has taken her classes for three consecutive semesters, said, “I can rightfully say that she has changed my life....”
(excerpted from a news release by Mitchell Diggs)

Djerassi Resident Artists Program
2325 Bear Gulch Road  
Woodside, CA 94062

650 747-1250