Diane Ackerman by Poetry Light

Poetry Friday is hosted this week at AUTHOR AMOK!


For the high school, or even advanced middle grade poet,

today’s PF post here at Bookseedstudio suggests  that

lines from some of Diane Ackerman’s poems, which speak

to doubts about creative ability, can rock their world.



a Diane Ackerman poetry collection,

new to me, that was a surprise find this summer,

are about what happened after Sergei

Rachmaninoff heard his first symphony played.

The poet tells us he rushed from the concert hall in shame.

He deeply felt he had created an awful,

imperfect work.


From Diane Ackerman’s ORIGAMI BRIDGES

“We cannot know all the sounds

Dahl and he exchanged,

but rubbing one word against another,

Dahl gradually restored

Sergei’s confidence. History tells

that Dahl used affirmations

and auto-suggestion:

“You will compose again.”

You will write a piano concerto.”

“You will write with great facility.”

Repeated until the words saturated

his gift from head to fingers.”

copyright, all rights reserved 2002



These lines are from Diane A’s, “Rachmaninoff’s Psychiastrist,”

which lifts me up . Two more lines:

“In truth, nothing can kill a gift,

but it may become anemic…”

I love the way the poet kindles “…rubbing one word against the other..”

& I have to say that every verse of this poem is layered with her signature

devotion to what words can say.


Here are more of Diane Ackerman’s poems at

Poetry Foundation.

Here is Sergei Rachmaninoff in a 1929 recording of

just a segment of Piano Concerto No. 2, written after his

help from Dr. Dahl.

And here is Rachmaninoff’s playing of the entire concerto:

And, it was my mother’s favorite so I was fortunate to hear it

as much as I heard, “Old MacDonald Had a Farm.”



12 thoughts on “Diane Ackerman by Poetry Light

  1. I love that Diane thought to bring us into this moment. In a roundabout way, this reminds me of the “What Can I Say to Myself?” poster Tara at A Teaching Life has on her classroom door (Instead of saying “I’m not good at this,” say “What am I missing?” etc.) What we tell ourselves is so important!


your thoughts? please leave a comment, to pop up after moderator o.k. thank you.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.