Posts tagged ‘Diane Ackerman’
Diane Ackerman, award-winning poet, essayist, and author, draws on the many wonders of the natural world to inspire her work. The movie version of her book, The Zookeeper’s Wife, starring Golden Globe-winning actress Jessica Chastain, hits theaters today (you can watch the trailer at the top of this post).
The book recounts the story of Jan Zabinski, director of the Warsaw zoo in 1939, and his wife Antonina, who during the Nazi occupation of Poland, tirelessly worked with the Polish resistance to hide hundreds of Jewish people, and zoo animals, in their villa. The Zabinskis helped many Jews escape to safety and saved numerous animals.
We chatted with Ackerman ’70 via email. Here’s what she has to say about The Zookeeper’s Wife, about her work and about the power of nature:
Tuesday’s edition of The New York Times ran a special section on climate change, timed to coincide with the United Nations Climate Summit this week in Manhattan. Two Penn Staters with very different perspectives on the issue feature prominently in the package.
The first is Richard Alley, the Evan Pugh Professor of Geosciences in the College of Earth & Mineral Sciences whose work on polar ice cores and quirky, engaging style of bringing science to the masses has made him one of the country’s best known climate scientists. Alley serves as the primary source in the Times‘ explainer on carbon dioxide, our planet’s most prominent greenhouse gas. Alley has a gift for useful analogies, and his “pothole” comparison in the Times piece is a great example.
Then there’s Diane Ackerman ’70, the author whose latest book, The Human Age, continues a career-long passion for the natural world. Ackerman’s new book is one of three reviewed with climate change and its impacts as a unifying theme. As we wrote in our Sept./Oct. issue, The Human Age offers what Ackerman describes as a hopeful take on how humans are impacting the planet: “…how, despite our tendency to alter—and occasionally obliterate—our surroundings, humans still manage to cultivate beauty.”
Ryan Jones, senior editor
If you’ve been following the Sandusky scandal, I’m sure you’ve noticed the tenacious reporting of Sara Ganim ’08, whose March story first alerted the public that Jerry Sandusky ’66, ’71 MEd H&HD was being investigated by a grand jury, and who was at the forefront of the coverage when the scandal became national news in November. She was honored Monday afternoon with journalism’s highest prize, the Pulitzer.
The citation, for local reporting, reads like this: “Awarded to Sara Ganim and members of The Patriot-News Staff, Harrisburg, Penn., for courageously revealing and adeptly covering the explosive Penn State sex scandal involving former football coach Jerry Sandusky.”
“This is definitely a win for the whole newsroom,” Ganim says in this video, which is upside-down. “For everybody standing here. And more important, I think it’s important for everyone in every newsroom just like ours for every newsroom across the country. because better than any award., the most rewarding thing in this whole process is people telling me this story and our coverage has changed their minds about local reporting.”
Ganim, who’s 24 years old and one of the youngest Pulitzer winners, is one of a very small group of Penn Staters who have been so honored:
Norman C. Miller ’56 of the Wall Street Journal won the 1964 prize for local, general, or spot news reporting for a “comprehensive account of a multi-million dollar vegetable oil swindle in New Jersey.”
Rod Nordland ’72 was part of a team from The Philadelphia Inquirer that won the 1983 prize for local, general, or spot news for coverage of the Three Mile Island accident.
Janet Day ’82 was part of a team at The Denver Post that won the 2000 prize for breaking news for coverage of the Columbine shootings.
Novelist Richard Russo, who taught at Penn State Altoona, won the 2002 prize in fiction for Empire Falls, and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Theodore Roethke taught at Penn State from 1936–1943. Additionally, archivist Paul Dzyak ’92 tells us, Donald Bartlett, half of a dynamic investigative duo with James Steele, briefly attended Penn State. Bartlett and Steele won the 1989 Pulitzer for national reporting for an investigation into the 1986 Tax Reform Act. And Mark E. Neely Jr., McCabe-Greer Professor of American Civil War History, won the 1992 prize for history for The Fate of Liberty.
Thanks to Dzyak and Vicki Fong ’81, manager of public relations for the College of the Liberal Arts, for helping to compile this list. If you know of anyone we missed, please let us know in the comments or at our Facebook page.
Lori Shontz, senior editor
Like a lot of writers, I read both as a reader (for pleasure) and as a writer (to figure out how other writers do it). So when I came across this interview with Diane Ackerman, whose latest book, One Hundred Names for Love, we excerpted in our July/August issue, I was psyched.
Interviewer Roy Peter Clark of the Poynter Institute is an Ackerman fan, too; he thinks One Hundred Names for Love is better than Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking, which won a National Book Award. (I loved that book, too.) Clark extracted a lot of interesting nuggets about Ackerman’s writing process, including this description of her writing space: “Shelves of white three-ring folders, labeled and organized, some filing cabinets, overflowing bookcases, big windows with a view of the backyard and woods, and a bay window to curl up and write in, one that looks out onto the garden and a big old magnolia tree.”
Somehow, that’s exactly how I imagined it.
Lori Shontz, senior editor
If you fell under the spell of Diane Ackerman ’70 by reading the excerpt from her latest book, One Hundred Names for Love, in our July/August issue, you can read her a little more regularly these days. She’s been a guest columnist for the New York Times this month, with a piece inspired by the turtles who slowed down traffic at Kennedy International Airport and another one that melds her research into the senses with a recent report on consumer research.
I’m hoping her columns, which are running in the Opinion section, will continue for a while. If you’re not a New York Times subscriber, this is a great way to use up a few of the 20 free clicks you get every month.
Lori Shontz, senior editor
If you’ve not received your July/August issue yet, rest assured it’s going to be in your mailbox soon, just in time for the summer reading season. And there’s a little something for everyone in this issue, including references to the Jonas Brothers and to zombie ants.
I’d like to call attention to an excerpt from the new book by Diane Ackerman ’70, One Hundred Names for Love. It’s a chronicle of how her husband, novelist and former Penn State professor Paul West, recovered from a stroke, but it’s also a beautiful, compelling love story.
If you’ve read any of Ackerman’s previous work, (I recommend A Brief History of the Senses), you’ll know her lyrical, poetic style. I read the entire book while deciding what we’d like to excerpt in the magazine, and it was not a easy decision to make. Plus, I teared up several times.
In this interview with Ackerman, who spoke to Katty Kay on The Diane Rehm Show, lots of speech language pathologists and relatives of stroke victims call in; it’s a fascinating hour.
In this issue, you’ll also find:
—Beautiful photos that Tina Hay took during the Alumni Association’s trip to Turkey.
—An incredibly entertaining profile of Rosey Grier ’56 by Michael Weinreb ’94. I bet my LP of Free To Be … You and Me, featuring his iconic rendition of “It’s All Right to Cry” is still in my dad’s basement, and this story made me want to go home and see if I could dig it up. It can’t be hard to find, not with the hot pink cover.
Lori Shontz, senior editor