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About this poet

Diane Ackerman is the author of seven poetry collections including Origami Bridges: Poems of Psychoanalysis and Fire (Harper Perennial, 2003) and Jaguar of Sweet Laughter: New and Selected Poems (Random House, 1991). Also a noted naturalist and essayist, Ackerman’s nonfiction includesThe Zookeeper's Wife  (W. W. Norton, 2008), which was made into a feature film, and One Hundred Names for Love (W. W. Norton, 2012), a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. 

Ackerman has written essays about nature and human nature for the New York Times, New Yorker, American Scholar, Smithsonian, National Geographic and many other journals. Her writing has been recognized by an Academy of American Poets Lavan Award, P.E.N. Henry David Thoreau Award for Nature Writing, Orion Book Award, John Burroughs Nature Award, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. She was lionized as a Literary Lion by the New York Public Library. Several of her books have been National Book Circle Critics Award finalists. 
 
Ackerman lives in Ithaca, New York and has taught at a number of universities including Columbia University and Cornell University.
 

 

Letter to Dr. B—


I have found you among the texts
(but not the textures) of your life,
in the library of your cunning,
where the abstracts of forty papers
open, one by one, like small windows
partly sealed by terminology's lacquer.
They reveal you both aloof and enthralled,
a restless mind of intersecting planes.

How can I resist the paper "Artist and Analyst"?
Yet I do, thinking it best to stay
within the frame we've chosen,
using the palette we invent,
creating a mosaic in motion.
Whenever I set a shard in place,
the mosaic evolves, blurs a moment,
then a new scene refines, throwing past into relief,
drawing present into mind.

So I will sacrifice my yen to know
the what and whim of you. Though my curiosity
is swelling like a Magellanic Cloud
filled with a luminous starfield of questions,
I'll sacrifice them on the altar of our ineffable 
cause. A padded altar. A cause quilted with passion,
and insight whose razors cut clean as thrill.
A sacrifice intoxicating as any pill.

From Origami Bridges by Diane Ackerman. Copyright © 2003 by Diane Ackerman. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins. All rights reserved.

From Origami Bridges by Diane Ackerman. Copyright © 2003 by Diane Ackerman. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins. All rights reserved.

Diane Ackerman

Diane Ackerman

Diane Ackerman is the author of seven poetry collections including Origami Bridges: Poems of Psychoanalysis and Fire (Harper Perennial, 2003) and Jaguar of Sweet Laughter: New and Selected Poems (Random House, 1991). Also a noted naturalist and essayist, Ackerman’s nonfiction includesThe Zookeeper's Wife  (W. W. Norton, 2008), which was made into a feature film, and One Hundred Names for Love (W. W. Norton, 2012), a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.