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Binding: Paperback
ISBN: 978-1-57131-471-0
Pages: 128
Publish Date: September 2015
Genre: Poetry

Bright Dead Things

BY Ada Limón


Bright Dead Things examines the chaos that is life, the dangerous thrill of living in a world you know you have to leave one day, and the search to find something that is ultimately “disorderly, and marvelous, and ours.”

A book of bravado and introspection, of 21st century feminist swagger and harrowing terror and loss, this fourth collection considers how we build our identities out of place and human contact—tracing in intimate detail the various ways the speaker’s sense of self both shifts and perseveres as she moves from New York City to rural Kentucky, loses a dear parent, ages past the capriciousness of youth, and falls in love. Limón has often been a poet who wears her heart on her sleeve, but in these extraordinary poems that heart becomes a “huge beating genius machine” striving to embrace and understand the fullness of the present moment. “I am beautiful. I am full of love. I am dying,” the poet writes. Building on the legacies of forebears such as Frank O’Hara, Sharon Olds, and Mark Doty, Limón’s work is consistently generous and accessible—though every observed moment feels complexly thought, felt, and lived.


"Effortlessly lyrical."—New York Times Book Review



Sharks in the Rivers

The poems in this extraordinary collection suggest that we must cleave to the world as it keep[s] opening before us, for, if we pay attention, we can be one with its complex, ephemeral, and beautiful
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Editorial ReviewGoodreads Review

"Limón’s landscape is Brooklyn, California, and the horsey and blue-grassy hills of Kentucky, and her writing is intensely intimate and wild, softly sensual and bold. Generous of heart, intricate and accessible, the poems in this book are wondrous and deeply moving."

Library Journal (starred)

“The lyrical genius of these poems sing to us of the perennial theme of home and our primordial ache of belonging. Ada Limón captures all the nuances that these colossal words call to mind with the gorgeous voice of her diction, and the timbre of her images. Both soft and tender, enormous and resounding, her poetic gestures entrance and transfix.”

Richard Blanco

“In the wonderful and wondering poems of her fourth collection, Ada Limón picks things up, puts them down, daydreams, sings, and casually, unpretentiously finds everything strange, all the while uttering truths that have a light, mysterious accuracy. This poetry is confident enough to let the world (Brooklyn, Kentucky, Montana, and elsewhere) and its words take center stage, again and again. And yet, Limón does far more than merely reflect the world: she continually transforms it, thereby revealing herself as an everyday symbolist and high level duende enabler. At the end of one poem she writes, “What the heart wants? The heart wants/ her horses back,” and suddenly even this most urban reader feels wild and free.”

Matthew Zapruder

“Ada Limón doesn't write as if she needs us. She writes as if she wants us. Her words reveal, coax, pull, see us. In Bright Dead Things we read desire, ache, what human beings rarely have the heart or audacity to speak of alone -- without the help of a poet with the most generous of eyes.”

Nikky Finney

“In Ada Limon’s Bright Dead Things, there’s a fierce jazz and sass (“this life is a fist / of fast wishes caught by nothing, / but the fishhook of tomorrow’s tug.”) and there’s sadness—a grappling with death and loss that forces the imagination to a deep response. The radio in her new, rural home warns “stay safe and seek shelter” and yet the heart seeks love, risk, and strangeness—and finds it everywhere.”

Gregory Orr


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Ada Limón

Ada Limón grew up in Glen Ellen and Sonoma, California. A graduate of the MFA Creative Writing Program at NYU, she has won the Chicago Literary Award for Poetry. Her most recent collection of poems is Sharks in the Rivers.

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