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Publish Date: January 2010
Sharks in the Rivers
BY Ada Limón
The speaker in this extraordinary collection finds herself multiply dislocated: from her childhood in California, from her family’s roots in Mexico, from a dying parent, from her prior self. The world is always in motion—both toward and away from us—and it is also full of risk: from sharks unexpectedly lurking beneath estuarial rivers to the dangers of New York City, where, as Limón reminds us, even rats can find themselves trapped by the garbage cans they’ve crawled into. In such a world, how should one proceed?
Throughout Sharks in the Rivers, Limón suggests 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 strangeness. Loss is perpetual, and each person’s mouth “is the same / mouth as everyone’s, all trying to say the same thing.” For Limón, it’s the saying—individual and collective—that transforms each of us into “a wound overcome by wonder,” that allows “the wind itself” to be our “own wild whisper.”
BEYOND THE BOOK
Read “My team signs Derek Jeter” from Ada Limón on the Milkweed blog
Read an interview with Ada Limón from Compose Journal
“Ada Limón is a poet of alchemy, able to transform herself into what is named as she utters the words—hummingbird, river, desire, gone. With Sharks in the Rivers she has created the thing itself, alternating rangy invocations with distilled wildness, always open to wonder.”—Nick Flynn
“Limón’s poems invite me into a consciousness that is always waking up, and always, despite everything that happens, choosing to step in, rather than away. This is a wonderful book.”—Bob Hicok
“The lush, verdant poems in Sharks in the Rivers remind me of the wild asparagus that grows up through the concrete streets of Bibai in Hokkaido, Japan: they are unstoppable. With the voracity of fire, they suck up every quivering molecule in sight, and exhale the cosmic force of love. Through the steamy, thorny undergrowth, up through the cold concrete, under the swift river, Limón soars and twirls like a bird, high on heart."—Jennifer L. Knox