Born in 1942, Ann Lauterbach was raised in New York City. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, she attended Columbia University on a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship. She moved to London before completing her M.A. in English Literature.
She lived in London for eight years, working variously in publishing and art institutions. On her return to the United States, she worked for a number of years in art galleries in New York before she began teaching.
Lauterbach is the author of several poetry collections, including Under the Sign (Penguin, 2013) and Or to Begin Again (Penguin, 2009), which was nominated for the National Book Award and which takes its name from a sixteen-poem elegy inspired by both Lewis Carroll's Alice and T. S. Eliot's The Wasteland. She is also the author of Hum (2005), If in Time: Selected Poems 1975–2000 (2001), On a Stair (1997), And for Example (1994), Clamor (1991), Before Recollection (1987), and Many Times, but Then (1979), as well as a book of essays, The Night Sky: Writings on the Poetics of Experience.
About her work, John Ashbery has said: "Ann Lauterbach's poetry goes straight to the elastic, infinite core of time."
She is the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the New York State Foundation for the Arts, the Ingram Merrill Foundation, and in 1995, she was awarded the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship.
In 2012, she was named the Sherry Distinguished Poet at the University of Chicago. Lauterbach has also taught at Brooklyn College, Columbia University, the Iowa Writer's Workshop, Princeton University, the City College of New York, and Yale Graduate School of the Arts where she was a visiting core critic. She is currently Schwab Professor of Languages and Literature at Bard College, where she has also been, since 1991, co-chair of writing in the Milton Avery School of the Arts.
She lives in Germantown, New York.