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Library of Congress names new US poet laureate

The Library of Congress on Tuesday named the 24th poet laureate: California native Ada Limón, the author of six acclaimed poetry books.

Limón is also a podcast host and a college professor.

The poet laureate is named annually. Limón, who will hold the position from 2022 to 2023 when she assumes the position in the fall, replaces Joy Harjo, who served as the poet laureate from 2019 to 2021 for a rare three terms.

Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden said in a statement that Limón is a poet who “connects” with her audience and readers.

“Her accessible, engaging poems ground us in where we are and who we share our world with,” Hayden said. “They speak of intimate truths, of the beauty and heartbreak that is living, in ways that help us move forward.”

Limón, who lives in Lexington, Ky., recently published her sixth poetry collection, “The Hurting Kind.” She said it was an “incredible honor” to serve as the 24th poet laureate.

“I have been witness to poetry’s immense power to reconnect us to the world, to allow us to heal, to love, to grieve, to remind us of the full spectrum of human emotion,” she said in a statement. “I am humbled by this opportunity to work in the service of poetry and to amplify poetry’s ability to restore our humanity and our relationship to the world around us.”

Limón, 46, hails from Sonoma, Calif., and is of Mexican ancestry. Her grandfather crossed over to California from San Juan de los Lagos in 1917.

She grew up in a working-class family: her father was an elementary school principal and her stepmother a speech pathologist, Limón said in a 2014 interview with the journal Compose. On the other side of her family, her mother was an artist and her stepfather a waiter.

“I think I was very lucky in this regard, to have experienced different lifestyles,” she said. “First, to have four parents that loved me and, second, to have an expanded view of what it means to be successful.”

Limón fell in love with the arts at an early age. She graduated with a Master of Fine Arts degree from New York University in 2001 and published her first poetry collection, “Lucky Wreck,” in 2006.

The poet has since earned praise for her emotional, attuned writing, and she has won several prizes in the poetry world.

In her latest collection “The Hurting Kind,” NPR critic Jeevika Verma wrote that Limón “has a knack for acknowledging [the natural world’s] little mysteries in order to fully capture its history and abundance.”

Limón told Compose that her poems are often autobiographical and follow a “strange, twisty narrative of the inner voice.”

“I write poetry to help me reconnect with the world. I write to feel grounded, and alive, and real, and breathing, and right here,” she said. “And hopefully, as I work on that process, my poems might help others do the same. I’m not saying that they offer a tonic or a salve, but I am trying to wave from my own leaky boat.”

Limón also hosts the podcast “The Slowdown” from American Public Media and teaches in the creative writing department at Queens University of Charlotte in North Carolina.

Tags Carla Hayden Library of Congress

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