Campus News

Women Writers Event to Feature Diane Ackerman


LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 5, 2010) − The Kentucky Women Writers Conference will feature author and poet Diane Ackerman as its keynote speaker at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 11, at Memorial Hall, located on the University of Kentucky campus. At this free public event, Ackerman will read from her book "Dawn Light" and will be joined onstage by author, poet and educator Heather Sellers for a conversation with the audience about friendship and mentorship in women writers’ lives.

The Ackerman and Sellers keynote program is the highlight of this year's three-day Kentucky Women Writers Conference, and is one of several events that are free and open to the public. The keynote address is co-sponsored by University of Kentucky Libraries.

The Kentucky Women Writers Conference, an annual event known for bringing notable women writers to Lexington for readings, writing workshops and discussions, will run Sept. 10-12. As part of the conference, Ackerman and Sellers will lead additional sessions for conference registrants on Sept. 11 and 12, at the Lexington Public Library - Central Library and the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning. Online registration for the Kentucky Women Writers Conference is open now. For details on the conference and to register, visit or call (859) 257-2874.

Diane Ackerman’s works of nonfiction include the bestseller, "A Natural History of the Senses" (1990); "The Zookeeper’s Wife" (2007); and her newest book, "Dawn Light: Dancing with Cranes and Other Ways to Start the Day" (2009). "Dawn Light" explores dawn’s every aspect from bird and animal behavior to the incomparable morning light inspiring artists such as Monet, to dawn rituals the world over, to the many connotations of the word "dawn." It is Ackerman’s most personal book to date, as she migrates like the birds from winter in Florida to spring, summer, and fall in upstate New York, reveling with contagious delight in each passing moment. Ackerman’s essays about nature and human nature have appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker and National Geographic. She hosted a five-hour PBS television series inspired by "A Natural History of the Senses."

Ackerman has also written eight books of poetry. Maxine Kumin says of her work, "I know enough to know when I’m in the presence of a brilliant mind. Her acrobatic poems are full of fact and exuberance."

Ackerman was born in Waukegan, Ill. She received two master's degrees and a doctorate from Cornell University and has received many prizes and awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, the John Burroughs Nature Award, and the Lavan Poetry Prize, as well as being honored as a Literary Lion by the New York Public Library. She also has the rare distinction of having a molecule named after her—dianeackerone. Ackerman has taught at a variety of universities, including Cornell and Columbia University.

In celebration of Ackerman's participation in this year's Kentucky Women Writers Conference, a free book group will convene May 14, to discuss "The Zookeeper's Wife: A War Story," Ackerman’s 2007 narrative nonfiction about one of the most successful hideouts of World War II. The discussion will be lead by conference board president Renee Boss at noon Friday, May 14, at the Carnegie Center, located at 251 West Second Street. "The Zookeeper's Wife" is a tale of people, animals, transcendence, and subversive acts of compassion. "Here is a true story—of human empathy and its opposite—that is simultaneously grave and exuberant, wise and playful. Ackerman has a wonderful tale to tell, and she tells it wonderfully," commented Washington Post Book World.