On July 12, 2022, Ada Limón was named the next U.S. poet laureate, making her the first Latina to hold this prestigious role. Speaking to the New York Times, Limón shared her desire to use her platform and linguistic skill to harbor a space for unfiltered feeling and emotion. Only through emotional openness, Limón claims, is the path towards joy.
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This nomination comes shortly after the publication of her sixth book, The Hurting Kind. In that collection, she explores interconnectedness, death, and solitude. In one poem, “Invasive,” one cannot help but be struck by the orality and sensuality of her verse, her lines littered with many stunning series of alliteration and strings of plosives.
The poem is best read out loud. When spoken, her words vibrate through your body, filling you with these emphatic pulses, as if the poem were leaving the page and invading you, gripping you with the physical intimacy of sound.
What’s the thin break
inescapable, a sudden thud
on the porch, a phone
vibrating with panic on the nightstand?
Bury the broken thinking
in the backyard with the herbs. One
last time, I attempt to snuff out
the fig buttercup, the lesser celandine,
invasive and spreading down
the drainage ditch I call a creek
for a minor pleasure. I can
do nothing. I take the soil in
my clean fingers and to say
I weep is untrue, weep is too
musical a word. I heave
into the soil. You cannot die.
I just came to this life
again, alive in my silent way.
Last night I dreamt I could
only save one person by saying
their name and the exact
time and date. I chose you.
I am trying to kill the fig buttercup
the way I’m supposed to according
to the government website,
but right now there’s a bee on it.
Yellow on yellow, two things
radiating life. I need them both
to go on living.