By Skye Anderson
On Oct. 4, the University of Montevallo will host United States Poet Laureate Ada Limón. Limón will be giving a lecture at the Center for the Arts at 6 p.m. as part of the university’s Dancy Lecture Series.
Limón, who has published six poetry books, is known for her accessible yet evocative writing style, in which she often employs a conversational, yet earnest, tone while focusing on themes of nature, familial values, strength and perseverance. For this, her work has received high acclaim and accolades, including the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry awarded to her 2018 book “The Carrying.”
Limón grew up in Sonoma, Cal., to a family of artists and teachers. In her youth, she was heavily inspired by her mother, Stacia Brady, a painter whose works Limón later used as book covers. Of Mexican-American descent, Limón takes great pride in her heritage; she has said that Sonoma is where she feels most at home. Limón currently lives in Lexington, Ky., but continues to split her time between there and Sonoma.
Though she fell in love with poetry in high school, Limón initially spent a great deal of her academic career studying theatre. In 1998, she graduated from the University of Washington with a Bachelor of Arts degree in drama before going on to earn her Master of Fine Arts degree in poetry at New York University in 2001.
After finishing school, Limón stayed in New York, where she worked in marketing at Condé Nast—the media company that owns publications such as “Vogue,” “The New Yorker,” “GQ,” “Vanity Fair” and “Wired”—while simultaneously working on her poetry. Within this time, she published her first three poetry collections: 2005’s “This Big Fake World: A Story in Verse,” 2006’s “Lucky Wreck” and 2010’s “Sharks in the Rivers.”
Limón’s 2010 loss of her stepmother to colon cancer caused her to reassess her career; wanting to make the most of her time, she quit her marketing job and decided to pursue writing full-time.
“When things feel so heavy, this is the long game. Right?” Limón told “Vanity Fair” in 2022. “Poetry is a long game. Life is a long game. Love is a long game. It’s bigger than me. The planet is a long game and, in that moment of recognition, urgency dissolves a little bit.”
Limón was named the 24th Poet Laureate of the United States by Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden in July 2022, making her the first Latina to ever hold the title. In April 2023, her term was renewed for two more years.
During her time as poet laureate, Limón has continued to share writings—her new poem, “The Endlessness,” was published in the Sept. 11 edition of “The New Yorker.” She has also spent her terms giving lectures and readings at universities across the nation.
In addition to hosting Limón, the Dancy Lecture Committee has organized many other guest speaker events at Montevallo. The series has hosted several poets, authors and playwrights in previous years.
During her time at UM, Limón will speak with creative writing students and students in Montevallo’s M.A.D.E. program prior to her lecture. Following the Dancy Lecture, Limón will have a book signing.