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I PRAISE MY DESTROYER by Diane Ackerman

I PRAISE MY DESTROYER

By Diane Ackerman

Pub Date: April 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-679-44878-0
Publisher: Random House

Long before she became well-known as a prose writer (A Natural History of the Senses, 1990, etc.), Ackerman had published volumes of verse that reflected her keen interest in science and the natural world. In this, her sixth collection, she clutters her work with unappealing displays of ego and a fascination with the mythology of herself that together distract from her otherwise splendid, more impersonal celebrations of “natural wonders” and “tender mercies.” After “humbly” proclaiming her roles as guardian, healer, messenger, and architect, Ackerman praises “life’s bright catastrophes,” elegizing Carl Sagan in a poem that remembers the good old days, before the two of them were “basking on the Riviera of fame.” In a handful of poems, Ackerman mocks therapists— “timed talk” and insensitivity—compared to hers—while reminding us elsewhere that she’s “a free spirit,” a “caresser of life,” and a “mischief hound.” Despite some writing-school-style formal exercises (a pyrrhic, a ghasel, and some credible imitations of James Wright and Auden), Ackerman is at her best in artful poems that embody the sensuality of nature, luxuriating in a lyric vocabulary all her own.