American poet and essayist. Mairs was born in Long Beach, California, and grew up in Boston. Married at nineteen, she completed her B.A. at Wheaton College, had a child, and earned M.F.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Arizona. The personal difficulties that inform her writing include a near-suicidal bout of agoraphobia and anorexia, and the later discovery that she was afflicted with multiple sclerosis. She found salvation both in writing and in Roman Catholicism, to which she converted in her thirties. Her first book was a collection of poems,
In All the Rooms in the Yellow House (1984). The eight books of essays and memoirs Mairs has written since include Plaintext: Deciphering a Woman's Life (1986), Carnal Acts (1990), Waist-High in the World: A Life among the Nondisabled (1996), Voice Lessons: On Becoming a (Woman) Writer (1997), and, most recently, A Dynamic God: Living an Unconventional Catholic Faith (2007). See also nancymairs.com.