For Ada Limón, animals and ancestors show the way


The Hurting Kind” is Ada Limón’s sixth poetry collection, and the author says this book feels different, representing “a shift towards a community, a connection with nature that feels more complete or holistic in some way.”

Part of that is due to geography. “My first three books I was living in New York City,” Limón said. “And I love New York. But the relationship to nature is very different when you live in Brooklyn versus when you live in someplace like Kentucky.”

The poems in this collection feature animals of all kinds — groundhogs, foxes, manatees, many types of birds — and they also talk to and about family, both living and dead. “When I realized there was something happening with particularly honoring nature and ancestors and the idea of connectedness, I realized oh, I can write towards this a little bit,” Limón said. “I leaned into that.”


Her work is suffused with “a sense of wonder and a sense of awe, as well as a heaviness and an attention to grief,” the poet added, but there are many light moments as well. “I don’t think I would be alive without poetry or humor or laughter. I really don’t. I find the world completely absurd. And that is in the poems.”

As a child, Limón wrote songs as well as poems. Later, while living in Brooklyn, she sang in a band. Both arts are about noticing and remembering, she said.

“When I started out as a poet, everything that happened to me was only happening to me. I think as I’ve aged, I can’t help recognizing this is the human condition,” she said. “I wanted that idea that so many people in my life, in the world, are the hurting kind. The people who are weepers, the people that are porous and receptive, and notice perhaps too much.”


Ada Limón will read at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Boston College.

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