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Poet in Profile: Ada Limón

November 20, 2010

I am so glad to be at a university that really prides itself on its reading series. Not only does it mean I get to hear wonderful things, but it’s such an exciting way to discover new American poets that I wouldn’t find otherwise. The scene here is so vast that it’s a little overwhelming. The sheer volume of lit mags and anthologies purporting to showcase the new American poets. So it’s great when all that is surpassed by a voice that just grabs you.

And that’s exactly what happened with Ada Limón. I saw her read at Emory’s sparkly new book store with Hadara Bar-Nadav and Simone Muench. The other two poets had their own intrigue, but Limón was in entire class of her own. I went home with her latest collection, sharks in the rivers, and didn’t sleep til I’d read it. Twice.

Her poems possess an intense lyricism combined with an amazing imaginative scope. These poems travel unbelievable distances– the title poem traverses New York, the lovers’ bedroom, and the watery homes of sharks. Her landscapes– many of them either Californian or New York– are vividly imagined but intensely personal. Never do they feel forced. There is no sense of a stretched metaphor at any point, not when she’s pondering drunken birds, or apocalyptic floods, her voice never waivers from its honeyedness– clear and intense and utterly seductive.

Also, it’s hard not to love a poet whose epigraph is taken from The Black Keys.

The stunning and heartbreaking Crush (via The New Yorker). I have it at least once a day for the past week, it is still stunning. It’s difficult to believe that the word ‘love’ can still be effective in a love poem. The poem’s delicate appraisal of persimmons soothes the reader before the whack of the final thought:


Maybe my limbs are made

mostly for decoration,

like the way I feel about

persimmons. You can’t

really eat them. Or you

wouldn’t want to. If you grab

the soft skin with your fist

it somehow feels funny,

like you’ve been here

before and uncomfortable,

too, like you’d rather

squish it between your teeth

impatiently, before spitting

the soft parts back up

to linger on the tongue like

burnt sugar or guilt.

For starters, it was all

an accident, you cut

the right branch

and a sort of light

woke up underneath,

and the inedible fruit

grew dark and needy.

Think crucial hanging.

Think crayon orange.

There is one low, leaning

heart-shaped globe left

and dearest, can you

tell, I am trying

to love you less.


Yep. I love her. Go buy the book. Go read her things. Go appreciate how beautiful she is. (And try not let her words punch you in the gut too much)

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Rick permalink
    November 20, 2010 12:50 am

    Said book ordered. Enjoyed the poem in your post tremendously. Haven’t heard of Limón, but I’m looking forward to reading her. Thanks.

    • November 20, 2010 12:59 am

      You will not regret it. Probably my favourite collection of this year

  2. julietwilson permalink
    November 23, 2010 3:36 am

    wow, that’s wonderful! It’s always a delight to find new poets whose work you love!

    Crafty Green poet

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