The Carrying


“Exquisite … A powerful example of how to carry the things that define us without being broken by them.” —WASHINGTON POST
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Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award
Finalist for the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award

From U.S. Poet Laureate Ada Limón comes The Carrying—her most powerful collection yet.

Vulnerable, tender, acute, these are serious poems, brave poems, exploring with honesty the ambiguous moment between the rapture of youth and the grace of acceptance. A daughter tends to aging parents. A woman struggles with infertility—“What if, instead of carrying / a child, I am supposed to carry grief?”—and a body seized by pain and vertigo as well as ecstasy. A nation convulses: “Every song of this country / has an unsung third stanza, something brutal.” And still Limón shows us, as ever, the persistence of hunger, love, and joy, the dizzying fullness of our too-short lives. “Fine then, / I’ll take it,” she writes. “I’ll take it all.”

In Bright Dead Things, Limón showed us a heart “giant with power, heavy with blood”—“the huge beating genius machine / that thinks, no, it knows, / it’s going to come in first.” In her follow-up collection, that heart is on full display—even as The Carrying continues further and deeper into the bloodstream, following the hard-won truth of what it means to live in an imperfect world.

Publish Date
8.5 × 5.5 × 0.25 in
6.2 oz

Ada Limón

Ada Limón is the twenty-fourth U.S. Poet Laureate as well as the author of The Hurting Kind and five other collections of poems.

Praise and Prizes

  • “Ada Limón has a novelistic knack for scene, and the narrative lyrics in this remarkable collection, her fifth, could stand as compressed stories about anxiety and the body.”

    New York Times
  • “Exquisite … Ada Limón is always a careful witness, accurately recording the moment, rather than trying to transcend it. Evocative dreams and pivotal memories help make this collection a powerful example of how to carry the things that define us without being broken by them.”

    Washington Post
  • “Ada Limón is a straight genius when it comes to noticing. Her poems turn the way horses seem to birth full-grown horses into a metaphor for love, and turn goldfinches into a reminder that there is always a chance at being nurtured by the thing that brings you pain—or at least a possibility that it won’t bury you.”

    Reginald Dwayne Betts, New York Times Magazine
  • “[In The Carrying] the National Book Award-nominated poet pens paeans to the world’s limitless capacity to astonish.”

    O, The Oprah Magazine
  • “Masterful … A piercing look into the nature of pain and impermanence… . It is a paean to nature itself, to the peace in knowing it’s both part of us and greater than us—especially when everything else in the world can seem like it’s falling apart.”

  • “Ada Limón is a poet of ecstatic revelation. Her poetry feels fast, full of detail, often playful, and driven by a conversational voice. This book represents a powerful deepening of the poet’s perspective … It’s a book of deep wisdom and urgent vulnerability, driven by language that feels not only beautiful but permanent and powerfully wrought, like a mountain. It leads you to the beautiful bright mountaintop of language, then guides you gently down into the rocky valleys of a conscious human heart.”

    Tracy K. Smith
    The Guardian
  • “With each poem in her new collection, The Carrying, Ada Limón counterbalances her most paralyzing fears with her ability to find small twinges of hope… . Each poem is a widening lens of the world, an unburdening of the things we carry deep within ourselves.”

    Paris Review
  • The Carrying is about the contradictory joys and burdens we all carry… . The societal connection between womanhood, motherhood and power is at the core of her work… . For Ada Limón, carrying both the joys and sorrows of a child-free life is a testament to the human ability to exist with many things piled on our shoulders at once.”

    PBS NewsHour
  • “[Ada Limón’s] new collection is her best yet, a much needed shot of if not hope, then perseverance amidst much uncertainty.”

  • “Tender, illuminating… . The anxiety of all of life’s realities permeates Ada Limón’s collection, which makes the work feel piercingly of the moment.”

    San Francisco Chronicle
  • “One of the best books of the year.”

    The Millions
  • “Exquisite poems about love, fertility, desire, this natural world we move through, the political climate, so much more.”

    Roxane Gay
  • “Introspective … generous … arguably her most emotionally complex.”