The Newest Poet Laureate of the USA, number 24: Ada Limón!

The Newest Poet Laureate of the USA, number 24: Ada Limón!

Photo of Ada Limón by Shawn Miller for the Library of Congress

Limón is the first female U.S. poet laureate of Latino and Mexican American heritage to be so honored. Born and raised in Sonoma, California (in the North Bay area of San Francisco, where I used to live!), she self-describes as “polyethnic.” In the bio from Sandra Lilley, the managing editor of NBC Latino, Lilley wrote that Limón “has Mexican and Indigenous ancestry, and on her mother’s side there’s ‘a lot’ of Scottish and Irish.” This article, announcing her selection, is here:

Limón, born in 1976 (the year I graduated college), has published six books of her poetry, two of which were honored by: the National Book Critics Circle Award (her 2018 book, The Carrying, won!); and, the National Book Award (her 2015 book, Bright Dead Things, was a finalist).

Some of her poetry, from these six poetry collections: The Hurting Kind (2022, Milkweed Editions); The Carrying (2018, Milkweed Editions); Bright Dead Things (2015, Milkweed Editions); Sharks in the Rivers (2010, Milkweed Editions); Lucky Wreck (2005, Autumn House Press, reissued 2021); and, This Big Fake World (2005, Pearl Editions). can be found here, on the Poetry Foundation‘s website:

This site has print and audio versions of many poems from thousands of poets. One of my favorites of Limón is reprinted here:

“How to Triumph Like a Girl” 


from Bright Dead Things. Copyright © 2015 by Ada Limón.  Reprinted by permission of Milkweed Editions,

I like the lady horses best,
how they make it all look easy,
like running 40 miles per hour
is as fun as taking a nap, or grass.
I like their lady horse swagger,
after winning. Ears up, girls, ears up!
But mainly, let’s be honest, I like
that they’re ladies. As if this big
dangerous animal is also a part of me,
that somewhere inside the delicate
skin of my body, there pumps
an 8-pound female horse heart,
giant with power, heavy with blood.
Don’t you want to believe it?
Don’t you want to lift my shirt and see
the huge beating genius machine
that thinks, no, it knows,
it’s going to come in first.

Check out Limón‘s own website here:

Photo of Ada Limón by Shawn Miller for the Library of Congress

Her podcast, The Slowdown, from American Public Media and The Poetry Foundation, in which she tells stories and reads her own and showcases others’ poetry in her beautifully melodious voice, can be found here:
In July 12, 2022’s Episode, Limón described what it was like to be invited to be chosen as the Poet Laureate in a Zoom meeting this past June and her subsequent visit to the Library of Congress. Then, because it “anchored her” during this “disorientation,” she read aloud the most recent USA Poet Laureate, Joy Harjo‘s, poem, “Without.”
You can sign up on this website for a daily dose of whatever she produces for this podcast (sometimes in print, sometimes an audio file; sometimes, a guest host takes over). Each Episode is about five minutes long, FYI. You can also donate to support her work on that site as well.

In case you’re wondering, : “Poets Laureate receive a $35,000 annual stipend for the usual 10-year termplus $5,000 to cover travel expenses, but that doesn’t come out of your taxes. The position is endowed by a gift from Archer M. Huntington, who established the original consultant in poetry position….Each year, the American poet laureate gives a lecture. At this event, they also read from their poetry. Poet laureates can also invite other poets to read for the Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature. They are also able to work on special projects.”