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I Praise My Destroyer: Poems

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  133 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
In her first new book of poetry since Jaguar of Sweet Laughter, poet and naturalist Diane Ackerman combines her deep understanding of the world with her immense passion for language to craft richly sensual poems that "honor all life/wherever and in whatever form/it may deal."

Imbued with ravishing imagery, these exuberant and lyrical explorations of aging, longing, and dea
Paperback, 132 pages
Published August 22nd 2000 by Vintage (first published 1998)
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Apr 06, 2008 rated it liked it
Another collection of poetry that I feel was technically good, but didn't connect to my 'heart' as much as my 'mind.'

My favorite piece from this collection:


Yes, the hot-blooded sun
yanking crocuses up upon their roots.

But no, your wild unbridled eyes
galloping hell-for-leather into mine.

Yes, the bloom-luscious magnolia tree
drunk with pale, brandy-snifter flowers.

But no, my spine's soft riverbed,
which you again and again and again kissed.

Yes, the fog rolling in off the lake
at nig
Nicole Kapise-Perkins
Feb 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Started this Wed morning, and finished Wed night. (It's a slim volume of poetry, which explains the speed. It's written with Dian Ackerman's usual elegance and depth.) I wish the poetry I experienced was as Ackerman's: "How can it all end, / the cabbage whites aflutter / like tissue-paper prayers / lofting to Heaven in a Japanese temple, / the yellow roses numbingly fragrant / and even the spiky conifer / whispering scent?" (from 'I Praise My Destroyer')
From 'Natural Wonders': The old moon lying
Feb 12, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: naturalists and/or sensualists
Shelves: 2008
From "Cantos Vaqueros":

One morning as I closed the cyclone-fence gate / to begin a slow drift / down to the cookhouse on foot / (because my truck wheels were glued / in deep mud once again), / I walked straight into / the waiting non-arms of a snake, / its tan beaded-bag skin / studded with black diamonds.

Up it coiled to speak to me a eye level. / Imagine! that sleek finger / rising out of the land's palm / and coiling faster than a Hindu rope. / The thrill of a bull snake / startled in the morn
Jan 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
I haven't read poetry in a while. I haven't had any ambition to write any in even longer. This book, which I purchased simply for the cool-sounding title, reminds me of the kind of poetry I used to write, the sort of ascetic I aimed for. There's a great mixture of traditional forms mixed with modern free verse and on each page there are plenty of lines that remind me of what good poetry can SAY by using simple but unexpected language. Beautiful stuff, really.
Catherine  Mustread
A small book divided into six sections with 6-8 poems in each section, of which the first section is the title of the book. None of them jumped out as particularly memorable or meaningful though the title poem had what I thought was the best imagery: " . . . worry hangs like a curtain of trembling beads across every doorway. But there was never a dull torment, and it was grace to live . . . and walk the startling Earth for what seemed an endless resurrection of days."
Jun 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.75 stars - I really loved a few of the poems in this collection, but a large number of them felt technically strong but not strong enough to pierce my readers heart. I was reading this at the same time as Mary Ruefle's collection of (poem-like) prose, The Most of It. I couldn't wait to go to the next piece in that book, but here, I eventually just wanted to finish. Thankfully, the final, longer poem "Cantos Vaqueros" was one of my favorites in the collection. I see that there is brilliance her ...more
Samantha Albala
I wasn't in love with this book. Sometimes her language and skill was wonderful, but she used some methods that would be better suited for prose or non-fiction. I do believe Ackerman is a wealth of knowledge and a great writer but I can see her being much better in other genres. If you do find yourself wanting to read this book I urge you to not give up on her here, maybe on her poetry, but not on her as a writer.
Feb 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
What can I say about Diane's poetry? Years ago I came across some of her non-fiction work and I loved the way she would write in a kind of lyrical, musical way. I had a hunch that she probably is a poet as well. After a little research I discovered her books of poetry and from that moment on I have been inspired to write my own poems. I have since then read many, many poems, but to me Diane's poetry is the best. I also recommend reading Jaguar of Sweet Laughter and Origami Bridges.
Apr 30, 2008 added it
All her work, poetry and prose, is marked by a deep sensuous imagery, often fresh and startling--but every so often a line or two will strike me as hopelessly middle-brow and pedestrian. Taken as a whole, the body of work is really lovely. Anyone who tries to live richly in the world will identify with her voice.

Sarah Goldberg
At dawn tomorrow
I'll go ballooning:
a slow, dazzling ascent
in the liquid cool of the day,
while I try to pull
the sky through my arms,
try to rise above
the weight of your memory.

There's a lot of death in this volume. But a lot of nature, too, and wistfulness, and love.

"The gabby inmate of my ribs" is the best description of the heart ever.
Isla McKetta
Sep 27, 2015 rated it liked it
Gorgeous imagery but I really wished the narrative was less literal.
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Diane Ackerman has been the finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction in addition to many other awards and recognitions for her work, which include the bestsellers The Zookeeper’s Wife and A Natural History of the Senses.

The Zookeeper’s Wife, a little known true story of WWII, became a New York Times bestseller, and received the Orion Book Award, which honored it as, "a groundbreaking work o
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“I will not dishonor
my soul with hatred,
but offer myself humbly
as a guardian of nature,
as a healer of misery,
as a messenger of wonder,
as an architect of peace.
I will honor all life
—wherever and in whatever form
it may dwell—on Earth my home,
and in the mansions of the stars.”
“One morning as I closed the cyclone-fence gate / to begin a slow drift / down to the cookhouse on foot / (because my truck wheels were glued / in deep mud once again), / I walked straight into / the waiting non-arms of a snake, / its tan beaded-bag skin / studded with black diamonds.

Up it coiled to speak to me a eye level. / Imagine! that sleek finger / rising out of the land's palm / and coiling faster than a Hindu rope. / The thrill of a bull snake / startled in the morning / when the mesas lie pooled / in a custard of light / kept me bright than ball lightning all day.

Praise leapt first to mind / before flight or danger, / praise that knows no half-truth, and pardons all.”
More quotes…