Ada Limón begins her tenure as American Poet Laureate

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Ada Limón, the 24th American Poet Laureate and eighth woman in that role, will bring her accessible poetry and focus on nature to her first reading as a Laureate on September 29 at the Library of Congress.

The laureate post “brings attention to the art of poetry and literature in general,” says Kathy Fagan, herself a poet and professor of English at Ohio State University. “It is a symbol for other nations that ours values ​​the ancient art of poetry.”

In July, Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden announced Limón’s nomination as an American Poet Laureate, and Limón’s term began earlier that month.

“Her accessible and engaging poems ground us in where we are and who we share our world with,” Hayden said. “They speak of intimate truths, of living beauty and sorrow, in a way that helps us move on.”

Limón has published six collections of poetry, including a 2018 volume titled Carrying, which won the prestigious National Book Critics Circle Award. Raised in California, Limón now lives in Lexington, Kentucky, where she hosts a poetry podcast titled Slowdown. She is the first Latin American and Mexican in the role.

Fagan, whose six collections of poetry include bad hobbysays Limón’s work is understandable to all kinds of readers.

“Her work is clear and tender and about the things of this world – animals, family, growing up as a girl,” Fagan says. “That’s what poetry wants to do – to reach readers and get them to see a new place in the world.”

Limón’s poem “How to triumph like a girl”, excerpt from the book Shiny Dead Thingsbegin:

Cover of the book “The Carrying” by Ada Limón (© Milkweed Editions)

“I prefer female horses,

how they make it all easy,

like running 40 miles an hour

is as fun as taking a nap or weed.

I love their swagger on horseback,

after winning. Listen, girls, listen!

Fagan is delighted to see a woman of color appointed to this prestigious position. Limón follows Joy Harjo, a Native American, in the post.

Limón writes about the environment as well as animals, notes Fagan. In “Instructions for Not Giving Up,” CarryingLimón writes about the spring bloom:

“Patient, industrious, green skin

growing despite all that winter has done to us, a return

to the strange idea of ​​a life going on despite

the disorder of us, the evil, the emptiness. Well then,

I’ll take it, the tree seems to say, a smooth new leaf

fanning out like a fist in an open palm, I’ll take it all.

Limón says she looks forward to amplifying poetry’s ability to restore humanity. “Time and time again I have witnessed the immense power of poetry to reconnect us to the world, to allow us to heal, to love, to mourn, to remind us of the full spectrum of human emotions,” says- she.

Poetry takes more effort than pop music, Fagan notes, but offers, especially with an accessible poet like Limón, a way to slow down and pay attention to what’s important.


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