In A Natural History of the Senses Diane Ackerman revealed herself as a naturalist who writes with the sensuous immediately of a great poet. Now Jaguar of Sweet Laughter presents the work of a poet with the precise and wondering eye of a gifted naturalist.
Ackermans's Olympian vision records and transforms landscapes from Amazonia to Antarctica, while her imaginative empathy penetrates the otherness of hummingbirds, deer, and trilobites. But even as they draw readers into the wild heart of nature, Ackerman's poems are indelible reminders of what it is to be a human being -- the "jaguar of sweet laughter" that, according to Mayan mythology, astonished the world because it was the first animal to speak.
"Her best poems keep bursting off the prescribed limits of the page...in the same way that great paintings burst their frames... Ackerman has energy, wit, courage, and passion... All of her is in each poem, and this 'all' reveals a woman of sensitivity, restraint, ingenuity, and passionate daring."
-- Hudson Review
"I know enough to know when I'm in the presence of a brilliant mind. Her acrobatic poems are full of fact and exuberance."
-- Maxine Kumin
"The best lyric poet now writing in the United States."