My guest this week is poet Ada Limón. We discussed several of the recurrent themes in Ada’s two most recent collections of poetry: Bright Dead Things and The Carrying—death, grief, love, joy, and the inextricable link between life’s beauty and sadness. Ada read a few of her poems during the course of our conversation. We also explored the inherent enjoyment in being present, and effective ways of managing stress and uncertainty. Other topics we discussed included:
- Death, rebirth, and coming out of struggle
- The light and dark—agony and ecstasy—the encompass a life
- The recognition that mortality makes this life worth living
- The urgency that comes from knowing that we and everyone we love will die
- Ada’s experience of moving to Lexington, Kentucky
- The different pace of life in different parts of the United States
- Taking deliberate steps to manage our stress and tend to our well-being
- Paying attention to the lessons of grief
- The inseparability of love and grief
- Realizing that others may be suffering in ways we’re not aware of
- The physical limitations Ada deals with
- The hidden phenomenon of struggles with fertility
- Grief as a kind of purpose
- My guest’s experiences of depression and anxiety (if you’re dealing with a lot of stress and anxiety yourself, I offer a free e-guide: 10 Ways to Manage Stress and Anxiety Every Day)
- Ada’s preferred meditation and self-care exercises
- Ada’s use of Shaking to release tension and stress from the day (very similar to the practice described by trauma specialist Dr. James Gordon in episode 66).
- The choice to keep saying “yes” to all of life
The banner image for this post is taken from Ada’s book cover, which features a painting by her mother, Stacia Brady.
Ada Limón is the author of five books of poetry. The Carrying won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry and was named one of the top five poetry books of the year by the Washington Post.
In her writeup of The Carrying for the Post, Elizabeth Lund wrote, “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.”
Ada’s fourth book Bright Dead Things was named a finalist for the National Book Award, a finalist for the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.
Ada serves on the faculty of Queens University of Charlotte Low Residency MFA program, and the online and summer programs for the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. She also works as a freelance writer in Lexington, Kentucky.