This week on Word Patriots@Webtalkradio, my guest is the noted poet and naturalist Diane Ackerman, the author of over two-dozen books of poetry and non-fiction. Many know her as the author of the best-selling A Natural History of the Senses. She hosted a five-hour PBS television series inspired by that work. Her poetry, which has enthralled me since I first read the original version of The Planets: A Cosmic Pastoral as a college student, includes: Origami Bridges: Poems of Psychoanalysis and Fire; I Praise My Destroyer; and Wife of Light. Her nonfiction includes the 2007 Orion Book Award winning The Zookeeper’s Wife, which tells the story of Jan and Antonia Zabinski, the Warsaw zookeepers who sheltered Jews from the Warsaw ghetto in World War II; An Alchemy of Mind, a poetic exploration of the brain and the marvel of the mind; and The Moon By Whale Light. She has also penned several children’s books and is the only person I know who has a molecule named after her—dianeackerone. Today she is coming on to primarily discuss her most recent book One Hundred Names For Love, which came out in April. The New York Times says of the book: “Ackerman weds exquisite writing and profound insights. This book has done what no other has done for me in recent years. It has renewed my faith in the redemptive power of love.” Booklist calls it “a gorgeously engrossing, affecting, sweetly funny and mind-opening love story of crisis, determination, creativity and repair.” One Hundred Names For Love tells the story of her husband novelist Paul West’s terrible 2004 stroke. Diane relates how frightening and frustrating the stroke proved for Paul and how devastating it was for her to witness Paul’s ability to communicate taken away, his essential self amputated.
Diane also tells how she helped Paul find his way back to himself, how she threw a life jacket out to that dark place without words for Paul to grasp onto and drew him back to the light., a feat as heroic and epical as Proust’s recapturing of lost time. Many people will learn from her methods and successes. She lays out a plan of attack for stroke victims suffering from aphasia to recover lost skills and in the process details an incredible love story. To find out more about Diane Ackerman visit her webpage: http://www.dianeackerman.com/. Also see the Amazon page for One Hundred Names For Love: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_2_26?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field keywords=one+hundred+names+for+love&sprefix=one+hundred+names+for+love.