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Ky. writer Ada Limón named next U.S. Poet Laureate

Library of Congress

The next Poet Laureate of the United States will be Kentucky writer Ada Limón, according to an announcement from Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden Tuesday.

Limón, 46, will assume her duties in the fall, becoming the country’s Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry for 2022-2023. She will be the 24th to hold the post since the title was altered to its current form in 1985 and the 54th to be named, though only 53 have served since the role’s creation in 1937.

The Lexington resident reacted to her appointment on NPR’s All Things Considered.

"To me, it felt like 'how am I even allowed to stand in that lineage,'" Limón said. "And so I took a deep breath, and I said 'yes,' and we all sort of laughed together. An incredible honor and the shock of a lifetime."

The Librarian of Congress, in a release, described Limón as “a poet who connects.”

“Her accessible, engaging poems ground us in where we are and who we share our world with,” Hayden said. “They speak of intimate truths, of the beauty and heartbreak that is living, in ways that help us move forward.”

Limón will succeed Joy Harjo, who served three terms in the position. Harjo was only the second person to serve three consecutive terms in the position’s history. Two terms is considered the maximum under most circumstances.

The Poet Laureate’s aim is to raise the national appreciation of the reading and writing of poetry, often through projects promoting the artform and broadening its audience. The American Public Media podcast “The Slowdown,” currently hosted by Limón, was launched as a part of a project by Tracy K. Smith’s poet laureateship in 2019.

In a press release, Limón said she was honored.

“Again and again, I have been witness to poetry's immense power to reconnect us to the world, to allow us to heal, to love, to grieve, to remind us of the full spectrum of human emotion,” she said. “This recognition belongs to the teachers, poets, librarians and ancestors from all over the world that have been lifting up poetry for years. I am humbled by this opportunity to work in the service of poetry and to amplify poetry's ability to restore our humanity and our relationship to the world around us."

Born in Sonoma, California, Limón is of Mexican ancestry. She has authored six poetry collections – including “The Carrying,” which won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry in 2018. Her newest collection, “The Hurting Kind,” was published in May.

She holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from New York University and has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center and the Kentucky Foundation for Women.

Limón currently serves on the faculty of Queens University of Charlotte Low Residency MFA program.

A native of western Kentucky, Operle earned his bachelor's degree in integrated strategic communications from the University of Kentucky in 2014. Operle spent five years working for Paxton Media/The Paducah Sun as a reporter and editor. In addition to his work in the news industry, Operle is a passionate movie lover and concertgoer.
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