She was the author of Confessions of a Skewed Romantic, The Myth of a Woman's Fist, Do You Take This Woman, Flying the Zuni Mountains , Riding with the Fireworks, and Cleared for Landing. She also edited Hungry As We Are, An Anthology of Washington Area Poets.
She also taught countless students at American University and at the Writers Center in Bethesda.
The Washington Post had a fine obituary earlier this week.[link] It quoted Darr as once writing:
"The poems I write and read help me to handle the feelings that would otherwise shred me," she once told an interviewer. "Poetry may not have saved my life, but I can't imagine a life without it."
There have also been many great postings online about her passing. E. Ethelbert Miller has posted the family's press release about her death on his blog.[link]
Merrill Leffler has created a Tribute page to Darr on the Dryad Press site. [link]
This may sound strange, but I am not so afraid of death now, with Annie over there. It will be more like life itself -- her exasperation, her flashing blue eyes, her trembling love, indignation, loyalty, temper, passion, inspiration, yearning. It will make the hereafter worth the trouble. She will, of course, have a beau at her side because Ann was a 20th century beauty in the style of our silver screen heroines. And men could not stay away. I never knew her when there was no one in love with her. She told poet Lisa Ritchie "one should always look her best, as if she were about to go on stage." The last time I saw her, maybe five years ago, she was in satin and brocade at poet Robert Sargent’s birthday party...he is now gone as well...she said “Grace, I had to give up teaching as I cannot remember my students' names." She had a retired Air Force Colonel at her side that day, proud to be her companion.
My remembrances of Ann Darr hark to the 70’s when I was just beginning to give public readings. She was already a nationally known figure, and I look back, humbled by her unflinching support and loyalty. I cannot remember any reading I gave where Ann was not in the front row. She understood my craziness and took it for art...something she could relate to...for she was a risk taker on the page and in life, and held nothing back. She did not mind when I went over the edge. She’d been there and back.
I have recordings of her from "The Poet and the Poem," several from the last 30 years, now archived at GWU library and Pacifica, ...and to listen is to know that there is no one else in the world that can read her poetry -- a tremulous voice, a beautiful broadcast vibrato; the soul and intensity in each word knocked my breath away, and always will.
My publishing house, The Bunny and the Crocodile Press, published two of Ann’s books, Confessions of a Skewed Romantic and Flying the Zuni Mountains. Her famous pilot-photo graces the cover of Zuni, designed by my daughter, Cindy Cavalieri; and Ann’s daughter designed the cover art for Skewed. Working with Ann was like being a teenager again at a sleepover trying out different color nail polishes. We met when we could. I was at St. Mary’s College every May for 28 years and Ann was a frequent guest poet. One May we put together the proof of Zuni Mountains in between teaching workshops and poetry readings. How I miss the chemistry we had together; she must have been in her sixties then. We were girlfriends, compatriots, and bonded in trust, putting together her books with only scraps of time between us...sitting in a dorm at St. Mary’s College with papers and pages covering the floor, then back to DC …and then a session in my condo before we went to see plays at Arena Stage... then doing the finals in my daughter’s kitchen...putting together her books, making something permanent...publishing on the run...poetry on the fly.
We had everything in common-- writing, daughters, and flying machines. Because my husband, Ken Flynn, was a Navy Pilot, our relationship was multidimensional. Only he knew exactly what her flying experiences entailed, the subtext of thrill and terror. Ann and I talked poetry, literary gossip; Ken and Ann talked technical maneuvers and detail missions. She cooked for us, we cooked for her. I never felt anything but comfort in her presence. I knew I was totally accepted. Who would want that to go away? Where can I find that now?
The fuel for Ann’s life was love and rage, in equal parts. I see her bristling at any injustice. I see her poems clinging to the brilliant absurdities and riding them out. She has a book called Riding with the Fireworks. That is her epitaph, blazing and moving. When Reuben Jackson heard of her death, he said “Fly- pilot – Fly.” How perfect that we all remember her in motion, as a triumph of energy, as an exertion of power.
ANN DARR Online
E. Ethelbert Miller has the family's original press release about Darr's death.
Merrill Leffler and Dryad Press, which published Darr's Cleared for Landing Poems by a WWII female pilot in 1978 have posted a loving tribute to Ann Darr on their website at http://www.dryadpress.com/AnnDarr.htm
"We note with sadness the passing of Ann Darr, a prominent DC poet. Dryad Press has started an 'In Memoriam' page on their website that is terrific. The link reprints poems, and gives biographical information.
Darr's Writing online:
"Relative Matter" (Dryad Press site)
The Long Flight Home (on Women at War)
Ann Darr on her Poetry on PRI's Radio Dialogue
1994 Interview with George Liston Seay
The Washington Post has a great obituary by Patricia Sullivan online [link].