Poet Diane Gilliam Fisher refuses to shy away from the complexities of history, instead using story to illuminate a multiplicity of truths. Her newest work, Kettle Bottom, re-imagines the West Virginia coal mine wars of 1920–1921 through the voices of immigrant, miners, and their families. In taking on the voice of each character that populates the work’s larger historical narrative, Fisher brings intimacy, immediacy and compassion to the retelling of a violent time. In Eleanor Wilner’s words, “Fisher makes the stone of the West Virginia mountains yield up its human past and gives a second, enduring life through her art to the people of her home place, who would otherwise be ‘all gone under the hill.’”

Her earlier, more directly autobiographical collection, One of Everything, relates the stories of the women in Fisher’s family. “Her language,” writes Wilner, “carries a particularizing, living presence, stripped of everything false. These deeply-felt, wide-awake, powerful poems are a touchstone for the genuine.”

Fisher, whose family was a part of the Appalachian outmigration from West Virginia and Kentucky, was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio. She received an Individual Artist Fellowship from the Ohio Arts Council in 2003, and Kettle Bottom received the 2004 Intro Award from Perugia Press, a poetry publisher based in Florence, MA. Fisher holds a Ph.D. in Romance Languages and Literature from The Ohio State University and an MFA from the Warren Wilson Program for Writers. She lives in Brimfield, Ohio with her husband and children.

Poems by Diane Gilliam Fisher

A Woman Is the Heart of a Home

A Reporter from New York Asks Edith Mae Chapman, Age Nine, What Her Daddy Tells her about the Strike

Pink Hollyhocks




    Poetry Center Reading:
    Fall 2004 (with Eleanor Wilner)