Ada Limón, Sojka visiting poet, shares work at poetry reading

Nicole Yeager, Contributing Writer

On Nov. 12, the Stadler Center for Poetry invited Ada Limón, a Sojka visiting poet, to read a series of her poems at Bucknell Hall. This Visiting Poet Series was founded and established in 1995 by Gary and Sandra Sojka. Each fall, a distinguished poet is invited to the University to present a reading and to meet with students and other community members in an informal setting, such as the Q&A that took place on Nov. 13 at 12 p.m. in the Elaine Langone Center forum.

The reading was held in Bucknell Hall and was opened by Chet’la Sebree, Director of the Stadler Center for Poetry and Literary Arts, followed by an introduction from Maggie Millner, a Stadler Fellow. Limón first shared that, because it is the eleventh month and the twelfth day, she felt it would be fitting for her to read thirteen poems from two of her books: “Bright Dead Things” and “The Carrying: Poems”. Her poems touched upon many themes such as love, motherhood, grieving, mourning, and independence and self-growth. She was able to intertwine these ideas through story-telling of specific moments, repetition of words or phrases, and specific imagery.

“Ada Limón’s personality and poetry are beautiful,” Tabitha Chilton ’22 said. “She jumps in and out of deep thought by mixing in scenes and details in a complexly transformative way while keeping the audience connected and engaged with her words.”

Towards the end of the event, Limón shared an inspiring bit of insight on her style of reading her work. The reason she never chooses which pieces she is going to read ahead of time is because she likes the readings to feel like a conversation in which both her and the audience are giving and receiving equally. During a moment of silence between poems, Limón said, “there is a hum in the room and it tells me what you are wanting to hear.”

Limón is the author of five poetry books — one of which was named a finalist for the National Book Award, the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award—the most recent having won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry and been named one of the top five poetry books of the year by the Washington Post. While working as a freelance writer in her hometown of Lexington, Ky., she is also a faculty member at Queens University of Charlotte Low Residency M.F.A. program and the online summer programs at Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center.

This past summer, Limón was on campus as part of the Bucknell Seminar for Undergraduate Poets program. She served as a mentor and guide for students by conducting writing workshops, offering lectures, facilitating discussions and simply being available as a distinguished writer. She was invited back this fall to share her work by Professor of English G.C. Waldrep because of her ability to “write about the details of daily life in a way that is utterly astonishing.”

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