Ada Limon becomes 24th U.S. Poet Laureate

NEW YORK (AP). The country’s next Poet Laureate, Ada Limon, has long considered her work a form of public art.

“I grew up with poetry in society,” says Lemon, a native of Sonoma, California. “It wasn’t supposed to be something just read on a page; it had to be read aloud. I remember going to poetry readings at the bookstore where I worked when I was 16 years old. This is an oral tradition. That part of poetry has always stayed true to me.”

The Library of Congress announced on Tuesday that Ada Limon, 46, has become the 24th U.S. Poet Laureate.
The Library of Congress announced on Tuesday that Ada Limon, 46, has become the 24th U.S. Poet Laureate.

Sean Miller/Library of Congress via Associated Press

On Tuesday, the Library of Congress announced that Lemon, 46, has been named the 24th U.S. Poet Laureate officially named Consultant Poet Laureate in Poetry. Her 1-year term begins in September. 29 with a traditional reading in the library’s Coolidge Auditorium, one of the laureate’s few official engagements. Lemon, who succeeded Joy Harjo, is an award-winning and wildly popular poet whose acclaimed collection Bright Dead Things has sold over 40,000 copies. She has published six collections of poetry, most recently The Hurting Kind, and also hosts The Slowdown podcast.

“Ada Lemon is a poet who unifies,” Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden said in a statement. “Her accessible, engaging poetry helps us understand where we are and who we share our world with. They talk about hidden truths, about the beauty and sorrow of life, which help us move forward.

The position was established in 1985 along with other laureates including Louise Gluck, V. S. Mervin and Rita Dove. Laureates receive a $35,000 stipend as well as $5,000 for travel expenses, with funding coming not from the government but from a private gift made decades ago by philanthropist Archer M. Huntington.

While the work is officially based in Washington, DC, the poets don’t have to live there—Limon will mostly work from his home in Lexington, Kentucky—and are generally free to shape positions according to their passions. The Slowdown podcast grew out of a project started by Tracy K. Smith when she was an award winner from 2017 to 2019.

Lemon is partly known for her nature poetry and looks forward to holding readings in parks and other places that highlight and celebrate our place in the world.

“Poetry is a way of reminding us that our relationship with the natural world is mutual,” she says. “He has a place to breathe and a place to pay attention.”