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Ada Limón named new U.S. poet laureate

Ada Limón.
Shawn Miller
/
Library of Congress
Ada Limón.

Ada Limón was named Tuesday by the Library of Congress as the nation's 24th poet laureate.

She will take over in September from Joy Harjo, who has held the position since 2019. Harjo was only the second poet laureate to be named to a third term; Robert Pinsky also holds that honor.

Limón's latest collection, The Hurting Kind, was published in May. In a review of the book, NPR's Jeevika Verma notes: "As in her previous notable collections — The Carrying won the National Book Critics Circle Award and before that, Bright Dead Things was a National Book Award finalist — Limón is acutely aware of the natural world in The Hurting Kind. And she has a knack for acknowledging its little mysteries in order to fully capture its history and abundance."

Limón has published six poetry collections and is the host of the podcast The Slowdown. She also teaches in the MFA program at Queens University of Charlotte.

In a press release, Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden said, "Ada Limón is a poet who connects. Her accessible, engaging poems ground us in where we are and who we share our world with. They speak of intimate truths, of the beauty and heartbreak that is living, in ways that help us move forward."

Limón described to All Things Considered her reaction to receiving the news of her appointment. She said thoughts of previous poets to hold the post ran through her mind.

"To me, it felt like 'how am I even allowed to stand in that lineage,'" she said. "And so I took a deep breath, and I said 'yes,' and we all sort of laughed together. An incredible honor and the shock of a lifetime."

And Limón reflected on being chosen for the position at this particular time in U.S. history.

"I think that it's really important to remember that even in this particularly hard moment, divided moment, poetry can really help us reclaim our humanity," Limón told All Things Considered. "I think we need to remember that we possess the full spectrum of human emotions. And I think moving through that grief and trauma, anger, rage — through poetry I think we can actually remember that on the other side of that is also contentment, joy, a little peace now and again, and that those are all a part of the same spectrum. And that without one, we don't have the other."

The Library of Congress has had a poet consultant since 1937. In 1985, an act of Congress officially establish the role that is now known as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry. The position is appointed annually.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Meghan Collins Sullivan is a senior editor on the Arts & Culture Desk, overseeing non-fiction books coverage at NPR. She has worked at NPR over the last 13 years in various capacities, including as the supervising editor for NPR.org – managing a team of online producers and reporters and editing multi-platform news coverage. She was also lead editor for the 13.7: Cosmos and Culture blog, written by five scientists on topics related to the intersection of science and culture.