Read Bright Dead Things by Ada Limon Online


Bright Dead Things examines the chaos that is life, the dangerous thrill of living in a world you know you have to leave one day, and the search to find something that is ultimately “disorderly, and marvelous, and ours.”A book of bravado and introspection, of 21st century feminist swagger and harrowing terror and loss, this fourth collection considers how we build our idenBright Dead Things examines the chaos that is life, the dangerous thrill of living in a world you know you have to leave one day, and the search to find something that is ultimately “disorderly, and marvelous, and ours.”A book of bravado and introspection, of 21st century feminist swagger and harrowing terror and loss, this fourth collection considers how we build our identities out of place and human contact—tracing in intimate detail the various ways the speaker’s sense of self both shifts and perseveres as she moves from New York City to rural Kentucky, loses a dear parent, ages past the capriciousness of youth, and falls in love. Limón has often been a poet who wears her heart on her sleeve, but in these extraordinary poems that heart becomes a “huge beating genius machine” striving to embrace and understand the fullness of the present moment. “I am beautiful. I am full of love. I am dying,” the poet writes. Building on the legacies of forebears such as Frank O’Hara, Sharon Olds, and Mark Doty, Limón’s work is consistently generous and accessible—though every observed moment feels complexly thought, felt, and lived....

Title : Bright Dead Things
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781571314710
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 128 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Bright Dead Things Reviews

  • Carmen
    2018-12-14 16:36

    Ada Limón is an amazing poet, with a strong distinctive voice. A feminist, rough-edged, American Latina, Kentucky/NYC/California/Nebraska/Tennessee voice. It's very good.I'll show you some examples. I'll hide them under spoilers because I know some people don't like poetry. So, you can only read the ones that interest you or none at all.Feminist/womanhood(view spoiler)[HOW TO TRIUMPH LIKE A GIRLI like the lady horses best,how they make it all look easy,like running 40 miles per hour is as fun as taking a nap, or grass.I like their lady horse swagger, after winning. Ears up, girls, ears up!But mainly, let's be honest, I likethat they're ladies. As if this bigdangerous animal is also a part of me,that somewhere inside the delicateskin of my body, there pumpsan 8-pound female horse heart,giant with power, heavy with blood.Don't you want to believe it?Don't you want to lift my shirt and seethe huge beating genius machinethat thinks, no, it knows,it's going to come in first. (hide spoiler)]Appreciating the little things in life:(view spoiler)[THE TREE OF FIREThe tree comes to mefor the first time in weeks.When did all its colors,like some commercial for dying,start shooting out of its skin?This morning, we fuckedeach other into a regularbackyard bonfire - cold woodturned to coal in the fine, fine flame. And now, this treebreaks into view, lurid red leavesthat demand a clanging,screaming alarm, and I think - this tree has been here all this time, and I didn't notice.I swear, I'll try harder not to miss as much: the tree, or how your fingers under stillsleep-stunned sheetscoaxed all my colors back. (hide spoiler)]God/Religion(view spoiler)[MIRACLE FISHI used to pretend to believe in God. Mainly, I liked so much to talk to someone in the dark. Think of how far a voice must have to travel to go beyond the universe. How powerful that voice must be to get there. Once in a small chapel in Chimayo, New Mexico, I knelt in the dirt because I thought that's what you were supposed to do. That was before I learned to harness that upward motion inside me, before I nested my head in the blood of my body. There was a sign and it said, This earth is blessed. Do not play in it. But I swear I will play on this blessed earth until I die. I relied on a Miracle Fish, once, in New York City, to tell me my fortune. That was before I knew it was my body's water that moved it, that the massive ocean inside me was what made the fish swim. (hide spoiler)]She writes A LOT of poems about death and watching her stepmother die of cancer. They're brutal, and very good reading. There's a whole chapter of the book dealing with poems on death and watching someone you love slowly die.I'll just put one of those in this review:Dealing with the death of a loved one(view spoiler)[COWERI'm cold in my heart, coal-hardknot in the mountain burieddeep in the boarded-up mine. So,I let death in, learn to prospectthe between-dreams of the dying,the one dream that tells you whento throw up, the other, whenyou're in pain. I tell youI will love someone that youwill never meet, death's warmbreath at the mouthof the body's holler.You are crying in the shower.I am crying near the shower.Your body a welcomed-red fire-starter in steam and I think,How scared I would be if I were death. How could Icome to this house, cometo this loved being, seethe mountains power and dare blast you down.I dry you off and think,if I were death come to take you,your real-earth explosives,I would be terrified. (hide spoiler)]She writes a lot about men, her exes, and her sexual experiences.Here's one liked about that topic,(view spoiler)[GLOWIn the black illegible moment of foolishwant, there is also a neon sign flashing,the sign above the strip joint where my second big love worked as a bouncerand saved the girls from unwanted hands,unpaid-for hands. Thin-lipped ladieswith a lot on their minds and more ontheir backs, loaded for bear, and forthe long winter's rain, loaded for real,and I've always been a jealous girl,but when he'd come home with a 4 a.m.stomp in his boots and undress to bed, he was fully there, fully in the room,my sleeping body made awake, awake,and there was a gentleness to this,a long opening that seemed to join usin the saddest hour. Before now, I don'tknow if I have ever loved anyone, or ifI have ever been loved, but men havebeen very good to me, have seenmy absurd out-of-place-ness, my bentgrin and un-called-for loud laugh and have wanted to love me for it, have been so warm in their wanting that sometimes I wanted to love them, too.And I think that must be worth something, that it should be a celebrated thing, that though I have not stood on a mountainunder the usual false archway of traditionand chosen one person forever, what I have done is risked everything for that hour,that hour in the black night, where oneflashing light looks like love, I havepulled over my body's car and letmyself believe that the dance was only for me, that this gift of a breathingone-who-wants was always a gift, was the only sign worth stopping for,that the neon glow was a real star, gleaming in its dying, like us all,like us all. (hide spoiler)]Being Latin@(view spoiler)[PRICKLY PEAR & FISTICUFFSMy older brother says he doesn't consider himself Latino anymore and I understand what he means, but I stare at the weird fruit in my hand and wonder what it is to lose a spiny layer. He's explaining how white and lower-middle-class we grew up and how we don't know anything about any culture except maybe Northern California culture, which means we get stoned more often and frown on super stores. I want to do whatever he says. I want to be something entirely without words. I want to be without tongue or temper. Two days ago in Tennessee someone said, Stop it, Ada's Mexican. And I didn't know what they were talking about until one of them said, At least I didn't say wetback. And everyone laughed. Honestly, another drink and I could have hit someone. Started the night's final fight. And I don't care what he says. My brother would have gone down swinging and fought off every redneck whitey in the room. (hide spoiler)]She also has a great poem about her ex getting hit by a bus, and a great one about peeing outside like the pit bull bitch she was with at a car show with an inattentive boyfriend.... oh, there's so much good stuff in here but I can't transcribe the whole book for you! LOL LOL Much as I want to.Tl;dr - Sometimes I get the urge to read poetry. Perhaps you do, too? It's hard to know what's going on in the modern poetry world (MODERN) because it's not really discussed or paid attention to in everyday life by everyday people. So, I'm here to tell you that this is good stuff and you might want to give her poems a try if you are curious. Take a look below my review for some quotes of hers I added to GR, as well - they can offer you a glimpse of some poems I didn't share here. I'll definitely pick up another volume of hers. Insightful, slightly funny, feminist, and able to tackle the hard stuff without being maudlin or preachy. Excellent. I think I'm actually going to purchase this one.

  • Ellie
    2018-11-20 10:32

    This book made me want to be a poet. To make magic with words. To carve out beautiful, vivid, life-filled moments, to define grief or lust or both together.This book made me write, such as I do. The words made me come to life, as only poetry can. It made me feel young again and my own age at the same time.Limon writes about longing, and loss (her poems about her stepmother's death brought me painfully back to my mother's dying), and making a life. About New York City and Kentucky and other spaces in this country.If you like poetry, read this book. And if you don't like poetry, maybe you should think about trying it anyway.

  • Jenny (Reading Envy)
    2018-12-11 15:37

    These poems are in four numbered sections. The first seems to be about dislocation and isolation, the second about loss and grief.I found most of the poems I liked in section three.Some highlights:Glow"...Before now, I don'tknow if I have ever loved anyone, or ifI have ever been loved, but men havebeen very good to me, have seenmy absurd out-of-place-ness, my bentgrin and un-called-for loud laughand have wanted to love me for it,have been so warm in their wantingthat sometimes I wanted to love them, too.And I think that must be worth something,that it should be a celebrated thing...."The Good Fight"...Like a fist. Like a knife.But I want to be more like a weed,a small frog trembling in air...."Oh Please, Let It Be Lightning"...And it didn't matterwhat was beyond us, or what came before us,or what town we lived in, or where the money came from,or what new night might leave us hungry and reeling,we were simply going forward, riotous and windswept, and all too willing to be struck by something shiningand mad, and so furiously hot it could kill us."The Conditional

  • Brian
    2018-11-24 15:22

    Each of these poems has a weight measured in depth; as a collection they create a perfect circle of teeth-gnashing humanity - a circumference dotted with points of joy, pain, celebration, humor and loss.I was fortunate to see Limón in July of this year doing a reading here in Northern California. She read 11 poems, most of them new work - her presence and narrative voice complemented the words in poetic totality. I wish that she had read "The Great Blue Heron of Dunbar Road" found in this collection - it's the type of poem that breaks you without malice, letting you slip between its fingers to shatter on the floor into the million pieces that will make of you something new.

  • Jenna
    2018-11-22 13:31

    I am gleaming. Promise you'll see me gleam.-Ada Limon, from "Lashed to the Helm, All Stiff and Stark"I went to this book seeking solace on the week of the Orlando massacre, the deadliest mass shooting in recent U.S. history, which was also a hate crime targeting the LGBTQ community and the Latinx community. I went to this book because I craved optimism and hope at a time when those qualities seemed hard to come by. And it's true that Ada Limon's strong-voiced lyric poems are woven through with positivity and pluckiness, marked by a determination to affirm life in all its largeness and spikiness, its wanton loves and lusts and gluttonies, its often childlike selfishness and, most of all, its awesome animal vigor, its adrenaline-driven thrust to survive at all costs....I remember the unrulyfeathered fowl of my earlier yearsthat draped the flimflam landscapeof the home of the first girl I ever kissed.... (from "Day of Song, Day of Silence")Quite a few of the poems in the book resonated with my current mood. Limon has a way of pulling disastrous news events into the embrace of her poems that feels startlingly immediate, intimate, almost casual: "Yesterday, so many dead in Norway" is a sentence fragment appearing in the poem "How Far Away We Are" that seems, almost offhandedly, to allude to the 2011 Anders Breivik killings, while another poem begins with the sentence "Big blue horizon wakes me / from a car catnap and the boys / tell me about Boston, the bombs," in an apparent allusion to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. Stripped of all but one or two identifiers, these large-scale tragedies are made to feel deeply personal; the wounds are made to feel fresh once again.I expected to be emotionally moved by those poems; what caught me off-guard were a handful of delicate, elliptical poems near the end of the collection concerning a couple's uncertain fertility and their fear of not being able to have a child. "Call to Post," "Lashed to the Helm, All Stiff and Stark," "The Conditional" -- these poems surprised me with their emotional power, and they will probably stay with me longer than the poems mentioned previously.Say we never meet her. Never him.Say we spend our last moments staringat each other, hands knotted together,clutching the dog, watching the sky burn.Say, It doesn’t matter. Say, That would beenough. Say you’d still want this: us alive,right here, feeling lucky. (from "The Conditional")Other favorite poems in this collection included "How to Triumph Like a Girl", "I Remember the Carrots," and "Prickly Pear and Fisticuffs". The book also includes four poems about owls and two poems about whales, poems that I probably should have loved as much as the aforementioned due to my affinity for their subject matter. But it was the poems that surprised me into loving them that really captured my heart.

  • Laura McNeal
    2018-12-11 17:46

    Approachable in the nicest possible way, by which I mean you re-read lines for the thrill of hearing them again in your head, not because you're confused. Intelligent and warm and surprising and unafraid of simple candor. Like "Miracle Fish, a prose poem that begins "I used to pretend to believe in God. Mainly, I liked so much to talk to someone in the dark." I also love the poems that tell longer, more complicated stories, all of which seem personal and yet circumspect. There's a palpable sense of respect for every person in these poems (and every other living thing, to include the beautifully considered whales), and yet there's enough intimacy to make the stories feel raw, moving, and true. The one called "Play It Again," for instance, where her parents are listening to Frankie Valli in the Castro District:She's in the windowcrying because the city is too big, and alsobecause we are at war, and he goes to workin tough schools that need teachers,Spanish-speaking teachers not scared of muchexcept how to make rent and make the world maybebetter or easier or livable. Nights, they get stonedin small apartments and eat enchiladas in the warm corn-filled kitchensand she's going to paint and have big ideas,and he's going to save the world with curriculum . . .It's that last line that gets me, really. "He's going to save the world with curriculum." This is a wonderful book I expect to return to again and again.

  • Sharon
    2018-12-08 12:19

    As a poet, I read a lot of books of poetry. I read to challenge my own writing, to introduce myself to new-to-me poets, and to keep up with what is being valued by the publishing/literary community. Mostly, I read books of poetry for pure pleasure. What I want from a book of poetry is sonic pleasure, intelligent word-play, a noticeable attention to individual word choice and images, and depth. It is rare when I find a complete book of poems that holds me and amazes me from beginning to the end of the book. Ada LImon's "Bright Dead Things" is just such a book. It is crazy smart and lyrically soaring. It resonates with me and my own dilemmas as a woman, while managing to circle such mainstream topics as love, identity, heartbreak, and home without falling into familiar tropes. In fact, it is the fierce and sassy voice of Limon that catches me from the book's first poem "How to Triumph Like a Girl": "I like the lady horses best,/how they make it all look easy,/like running 40 miles per hour/is as fun as taking a nap, or grass./I like their lady horse swagger,/after winning. Ears up, girls, ears up!/But mainly, let's be honest. l like/that they're ladies. As if this big/dangerous animal is also a part of me..." Limon splits her time between Kentucky and California, so it seems from this book that she has more than a passing acquaintance with horses. The speaker's voice in this poem is also full of "swagger" and whimsy. Who calls them "lady horses?" This opening poem announces that this woman poet has confidence, humor, and verve, and as she finishes this poem, she "knows,/(she's) going to come in first."The book is broken into four sections. The second section deals, with searing honesty about the dying and death of her step-mother. That section captures and grapples with the complex roller-coaster ride of emotions that any loved one endures while trying to share those last weeks with a beloved other.In "The Other Wish" Limon explores the flight of Icarus, which has been done in countless poems. But once again, she takes a somewhat familiar trope, and she makes it beautifully her own, as when, in thinking about that poor doomed flyer, she realizes, "Nights, I wonder about the sanity of Icarus,/wax and wings both wasted on the sun's scorch./If I'd a handmade, fanned out, feathered set, me?/I'd choose the moon, always the sister moon./Cold, comely queen of the sky. Pockmarked/with craters, pummeled by meteors and still/ shining. Imagine, the gathering on the shore./you, holding my coat for a warm come-back.// We mean a thing is impossible when we say/we're shooting for that great orbital puller./ How hard can you glow? asks the owl's eye./ What radiant part of you wishes to dynamite?I met with two other poets to discuss this book, and we could not stop choosing "our favorite poem" here. I highly recommend this gem of a book.

  • Mark
    2018-12-01 18:19

    Obviously, I am still learning the nuances of poetry but boy, when I read something special, it really resonates and clambers around in my skull, like a bat loose in the house. This collection, Bright Dead Things is filled with moments like this and I can not recommend it higher. Please try it for yourself and I am going to seek out her earlier work.

  • Ken
    2018-11-23 13:20

    Ada Limon writes accessible and easily digestible poems, a plus from the start. Among the themes treated here are being a woman, being Mexican, and, in one section, death--specifically the death of her step-mother, which became grist for a set of poems.Some cool lines I jotted down as I read are as follows:"I'm like a fence, or a cow, or that word, yonder""not just to let the savage grass grow....""the clowned-out clouds""spring's pushed out every tizzy-tongued flower known to the valley's bosom of light""tongue out to catch what was left of the world""Every moon will be a moon of surrender and lemon seeds""Let's be owls tonight, stay up in the branches of ourselves.."As is true with any collection, the strengths were variable. Some poems seemed self-consciously poetic, but others were true, with that certain je ne sais quo that just tells you "I've read a good poem. Damn!" An example is the poem harboring the book's title:I Remember the CarrotsI haven't given up on trying to live a good life,a really good one even, sitting in the kitchenin Kentucky, imagining how agreeable I'll be--the advance of fulfillment, and of desire--all these needs met, then unmet again.When I was a kid, I was excited about carrots, their spidery neon tops in the garden’s plot.And so I ripped them all out. I broke the new rootsand carried them, like a prize, to my fatherwho scolded me, rightly, for killing his whole crop.I loved them: my own bright dead things.I'm thirty-five and remember all that I've done wrong.Yesterday I was nice, but in truth I resentedthe contentment of the field. Why must we practice this surrender? What I mean is: there are daysI still want to kill the carrots because I can.Then there's this:The RiveterWhat I didn’t saywhen she asked mewhy I knew so muchabout dying, was that,for me, it was work.When Dad called to saywe had a month, I made a list.I called in my teamto my office in a high rise,those Rosies of know-how,those that had lost someone loved,those that had done the assembly lineof a home death, and said,What’s this about not keepingher on TPN? One woman,who was still soft with sadnesssaid, It depends on whethershe wants to die of heart failureor to drown in her own fluids.I nodded, and wrote that downlike this was a meetingabout a client who wasn’t happy.What about hospice? I asked.They said, They’ll help,but your Dad and you guyswill do most of it.I put a star by that.We had a plan of action.When this happens, we do this.When that happens, we do that.But what I forgotwas that it was our plan,not hers, not the one doing the dying,this was a plan for thosewho still had a next.See, our job was simple:keep on living. Her job was harder,the hardest. Her job,her work, was to let the machineof survival break down,make the factory fail,to know that this war was winless,to know that she would singlehandedlydestroy us all.Limon also mixed it up nicely. Although there are no form poems, she includes prose poems and isn't overly partial to the single-block stanza, mixing it up now and then. What's more, she's made The New Yorker with one of these poems. End of story. Or poem, I should say. Here you go. Something that impressed even Paul Muldoon:State BirdConfession: I did not want to live here,not among the goldenrod, wild onions,or the dropseed, not waist high in the barrel-aged brown corn water, not with the million-dollar racehorses, or the tightly woundround hay bales. Not even in the old tobaccoweigh station we live in, with its heavy metalsafe doors that frame our bricked bedroomlike the mouth of a strange beast yawningto suck us in, each night, like air. I denied it,this new land. But, love, I’ll concede this:whatever state you are, I’ll be that state’s bird,the loud, obvious blur of song people point towhen they wonder where it is you’ve gone.

  • S.
    2018-11-30 15:31

    This includes some stellar poems including the one that convinced me to buy it, How To Triumph Like A Girl. (link: poems are confident and work with admirable chutzpah, but there’s nothing arrogant or condescending about them. Limon has a great voice and you just kind of want to be friends with her. (If only she’d run for president!) The poems are accessible and honest, sometimes funny, sometimes daring, often optimistic. I like that. The setting is mostly tangible rural American.The book is separated into four sections and I found the first and last the strongest. The second deals with the death of her stepmother, whom she both loved and didn’t like. There are other family poems, too, and love poems and poems of displacement. “State Bird” is about living somewhere (Kentucky) rather than where you’d like to (Brooklyn) for the sake of a partner. It’s really a gorgeous poem. It begins honestly -Confession: I did not want to live here,not among the goldenrod, wild onions...It then kind of wavers and I, for one, thought it was about to falter but the conclusion soars. In a couple cases the opposite happens. You are rapt with what’s happening and then the end fades out or hits the wrong note. “Prickly Pear and Fisticuffs” would be one example, at least for me. Still I’d certainly recommend this for those who like a strong voice and a mostly uplifting read. My favorites were How to Triumph Like a Girl, Roadside Attractions with the Dogs of America, Lies About Sea Creatures, The Great Blue Heron of Dunbar Road, State Bird and During the Impossible Age of Everyone. Here's a link to Roadside Attractions with the Dogs of America:

  • Erica
    2018-12-01 12:31

    Really well-wrought lyrical confessional poems with a hint of ironic distancing and the flat-surprise tone that is the earmark of contemporary young mainstream poets. Lovely for its thing, which is not my thing.

  • Adriana Martinez Figueroa
    2018-11-21 10:35

    i was trying to come up with words to review this book but what came out was the following:I visualized this book like a valley. You’re writing under a tree that’s turning in autumn. Sometimes there are occasional clouds crossing the valley, casting shadows along the way that remind you of an emotion you saw once one the face of someone you loved. When you run out of words to write down, you unravel the leash you had your horse tied to and climb on. You gallop home, to the person you’re growing to love, who’s cemented in your heart brain soul. In your kitchen, you drink a glass of water and see the landline’s voicemail light flashing. You know it’s her but it’s gonna have to wait, even though she can’t wait, doesn’t have time to waste. But you don’t know that. Not yet. Not while there’s still sunlight coming through the kitchen window and the world keeps stretching s t r e t c h i n gstretching.

  • Elena ( The Queen Reads )
    2018-12-07 16:32

    So instead, we looked up at the unruly sky, its clouds in simple animal shapes we could name though we knew they were really just clouds— disorderly, and marvelous, and ours.

  • Alarie
    2018-12-17 16:26

    I’m grateful to another reviewer who introduced me to Ada Limon’s work with a link to the first poem, “How to Triumph like a Girl.” Not surprisingly, that poem won a Pushcart Prize. It also sent me straight to Amazon to place a book order. I love everything about Limon’s poems, their strong feminism, their humor and humanity, and their accessibility. I especially love how she deals with difficult issues that face us all (death, hospice, love entanglements), yet manages to leave us feeling uplifted, part of something greater than ourselves. As she said in a Q&A, “Life is suffering. Art should be a gift.” (I hadn’t finished the book before I looked her up on You Tube and watched two readings.)Most of Limon’s titles are simple and serviceable, but a few are so captivating I’d jump to their pages in an anthology, like these two: “I Remember the Carrots” displays her fierce determination that surfaces again and again in a proud, ta-da! attitude. Limon often writes in almost a stream of consciousness that feels natural yet is surprisingly compact, taking you on a short, zig-zag path to a strong, unexpected ending. “Oh, Please Let It Be Lightning,” begins with a car trip discussion: “…your mother said she wasn’t sure/if one of your ancestors died in childbirth/or was struck by lightning.” The title would have been the expected punch line, but she ends the poem with a much grander bang.I’d be reading along, simply enjoying the flow and tone of her work when a metaphor or simile would stop me in wonder. Here are a few of my favorites:“…As if this bigdangerous animal is also a part of me,that somewhere inside the delicateskin of my body, there pumpsan 8-pound female horse heart,giant with power, heavy with blood.”(“How to Triumph Like a Girl”)“If you walk long enough, your crowded head clears,like how all the cattle run off loudly as you approach.”(“During the Impossible Age of Everyone”)“Below the grave, a cold spring runs. Clear, like a conscience.”(“The Rewilding”)Limon has joined my list of favorite poets.

  • Marin
    2018-12-15 11:38

    This is a treasure chest of poems. Honestly, when I heard the words 'positive" and "optimistic" used to describe these poems, I was skeptical. Then I started reading and the poems not only ring true but draw up a strength and longing that you never knew you had or... that has run aground. This is a necessary book that I will be returning to often. My favourite poems are: 'How to Triumph Like a Girl," "State Bird,"Miracle Fish", "The Riveter", "The Vine", "We Are Surprised", "The Long Ride", "The Wild Divine", "Oh Please, Let It Be Lightning", "Roadside Attractions with the Dogs of America", "The Problem with Travel." "The Whale and Waltz Inside Of It" tops my list and Ada's last poem, "The Conditional" is 'steadying' to say the least.

  • Melissa
    2018-12-17 17:46

    I've always been a fan of Limon's work. This particularly book is so heartbreaking and beautiful. It mourns and celebrates and questions. It finds a pulse in the silence: "I'm learning so many different ways to be quiet." The collection also has so many witty lines; I smiled and chuckled as much as I teared up. The moment I finished the book, I began reading poems again. Limon certainly "triumphs like a girl."

  • Michelle
    2018-11-29 11:28

    Oh my gosh, these poems! Tore me open then put on a salve. So good, so necessary. Took me a few days to read because I kept going back to certain poems.

  • Chelsea
    2018-12-14 14:29

    Ada Limón's Bright Dead Things illuminates life's great and small tragedies and triumphs, allowing even death to shine, as the collection's title suggests. This is one of the most impressively crafted books of poems that I have read; the narrative is so fluid that any question asked by a poem is subsequently answered by the poems that follow it, despite the collection's many themes and turns. In one of my favorite poems of the collection, "The Rewilding," Limón asks, "What should we believe in next?" (8) and the collection seeks to answer this question as we move through its pages. These poems seek, as "The Rewilding" does, to connect the speaker back to the earth, almost as a means of steadying her through the grief she encounters in the beginnings and ends of things. It is hard to pin down this voice; it is at once fierce and angry, and quiet and contemplative, but the lyricism of the work allows each poem to sing its truth as the speaker grapples with questions and losses with a resigned strength. We trust this voice as it navigates us through these spaces because of the honesty with which it delivers these moments, as in, "What I saw in the men who came before, / sometimes I don't want to say this out loud, / was someone I could hold up to my ear / and hear the ocean, something I could say my name into, / and have it returned in the inky waves" (64-65). This honesty is present as Limón grapples with the death of her stepmother in many of these poems. In "In a Mexican Restaurant I Recall How Much You Upset Me," she struggles to come to terms with this unreconciled relationship: "You're the muscle / I cut from the bone and still the bone / remembers, still it wants (so much, it wants) / the flesh back, the real thing, / if only to rail against it, if only / to argue and fight, if only to miss / a solve-able absence" (31-32).As we move both geographically from place to place, and figuratively through relationships, Limón finds a kind of faith in the earth and its thriving, despite the fleeting nature of much of its existence. The closing poem, "The Conditional" is a litany of the space we take on earth and our temporary relationship with all the life it contains. "Say tomorrow doesn't come. / Say the moon becomes an icy pit. / Say the sweet-gum tree is petrified." (101), she begins with perfectly crafted end-stopped lines. The poem is, in a way, an answer to the question asked in "The Rewilding." What should we believe in next? Limón's answer: "Say we spend our last moments staring / at each other, hands knotted together, / clutching the dog, watching the sky burn. Say, it doesn't matter. Say, That would be / enough. Say you'd still want this: us alive / right here, feeling lucky" (101).

  • Daniel Klawitter
    2018-12-12 16:18

    "There remains the mystery of how the pupil devoursso much bastard beauty." This one line from the poem "The Rewilding" captures my own response to this marvelously rich collection of poems. Traversing the country of the heart as well as the actual landscapes of Kentucky and New York (where the poet divides her time), we as readers are treated as fellow travelers...privileged to have Ada Limon as our generous guide to striking emotional landscapes, audacious metaphors, and heart-wise reflections of place and home and homelessness. The poet manages to weave narrative with nature, humor with pathos, the contemporary with the timeless echo of transcendent much bastard beauty indeed. And how she does it all is blessed mystery, as all good writing should be. TornBy Ada LimonWitness the wet dead snake, its long hexagonal pattern weavedaround its body like a code for creation, curled up cold on the newly tarred road. Let us begin with the snake: the fact of death, the poverty of place, of skin and surface. See how the snake is cut in two—its body divided from its brain. Imagine now, how it moves still, both sides, the tail dancing, the head dancing. Believe it is the mother and the father. Believe it is the mouth and the words. Believe it is the sin and the sinner— the tempting, the taking, the apple, the fall, every one of us guilty, the story of us all. But then return to the snake, pitiful dead thing, forcefully denying the split of its being, longing for life back as a whole, wanting you to see it for what it is, something that loves itself so much, it moves across the boundaries of death, to touch itself once more, to praise both divided sides equally, as if it was easy.

  • L.A.
    2018-12-04 13:38

    An amazing collection of poetry that deserves every good critical review it's received.Good poetry is visceral. It smacks you across the face with an image, or stabs you in the heart with an observation, or blows your mind with a comparison of things you had never before put together. Racism and goats, for example, or being Latinx and prickly pears. By all of which I mean, oh my stars, if you like poetry and don't read this book, you are just plain missing out.Even if you don't like poetry, you will not be able to help but love Limon. Her poems are firmly grounded in place: for the most part, that means Kentucky in this volume, and she makes you see, feel, taste, hear, and smell it. Having moved there with a new love after the death of her stepmother, Limon explores her new territory and tries to find her place within it. There are also several poems about her stepmother's death, as well as the rest of her family. Each evokes a specific time and place, but the feelings contained within are universal, pains we have all felt, or will feel.This volume contains some delicious celebrations of sex and bodies, so this would be a great collection to have on hand if you're courting a new love and trying to take the next step, or want to remind your current flame just how much you still want them. If sharing these doesn't get you some quality naked time, something was probably already off. There are also a number of travel poems, in which Limon explores the spaces between spaces, and the experience of movement/transitions. She manages to do all of this with language that is both lush/earthy and simple/sensible, as well as frank/blunt when necessary.In short, I love it, I love it, I love it, I'm buying it. You'll love it too. I promise, I promise, I promise.

  • D.A. Gray
    2018-12-12 17:34

    The speaker in Ada Limon’s poems seems at first glance to focus on the confessional, letting the reader see her sadness and her moments of epiphany. By the end, this reader realizes these seemingly personal poems touch on the universal, showingus Blake-style, the universe in a grain of sand. The reader sees New York City, Kentucky and places out west through her eyes and in many of the poems the act of pulling up roots and setting them down in a new place shows reasons a speaker might be tempted to let fear win, to retreat from uncertainty or tragedies such as a catastrophic accident, infidelity or horses dying in a trailer fire. Experience often makes one question whether the effort is worth it. And then Limon shows, selflessly, a speaker trying imperfectly to move forward, an act of courage or defiance. The poems seem to be a loose stream of consciousness until one reads them again, and realizes the disparate images at the beginning tie together into a satisfying epiphany by the end. This is the well-structured work of a strong craftsman. That’s the testament of how strong this collection is, the fact the poems consistently reward multiple reads.

  • Kathleen
    2018-11-29 13:41

    Take my rating with a grain of salt! Tried reading poetry because, why not, and it's still as abstruse as when I tried to read it in high school. I must say that, being contemporary, these poems felt much more fresh and readable than anything I'd attempted in the past, but poetry is still not my thing. There were actually a number of poems in this collection that I liked very much! The poems are slightly dark and a little sarcastic, which I liked. I actually really enjoyed the structureless poems--the ones that read like paragraph-long short stories (I'm sure there's some esoteric poetry term for this, but I wouldn't know what it is.) In short, glad I read this.

  • Alix
    2018-12-11 16:36

    ahh! what a marvelous way to start my new year with such a powerful distinctive voice in literature.Somewhere I had heard that, after noting the lackof water pressure in an old hotel in Los Angeles,they found a woman’s body at the bottomof the cistern.Imagine, just thinking the water was low, just wantingto take a shower.After that, when the water would act weird,spurt, or gurgle, I’d imagine a body, a woman, a mejust years ago, freely single, happily unaccounted for,at the lowest curve of the water tower.

  • Melissa Reddish
    2018-12-07 18:30

    A phenomenal collection-- one of my favorites of 2015, perhaps ever. There isn't a weak poem in the collection-- each is a brightly lit tendril creeping into your darkest places. These poems are accessible without being simplistic, sincere without being mawkish. Everyone should read this collection immediately.

  • Sean
    2018-11-26 15:35


  • Sally
    2018-12-15 16:40

    I am sure I will come back to this collection again and again. Grounded in reality, but reaching for the divine that storms within our selves and between ourselves.

  • Anna W.
    2018-12-02 18:43

    I happenstanced across this collection at my local library (which isn't exactly up-to-date in the poetry section) and I was happily blown away by Limon's poetry. I state my case: But love is impossible and it goes on despite the impossible. You're the muscle I cut from the bone and still the boneremembers, still it wants (so much, it wants)the flesh back, the real thing, if only to rail against it, if onlyto argue and fight, if only to missa solve-able absence.-In a Mexican Restaurant I Recall How Much You Upset MeOne might think from the title that the quoted poem is about some petty skirmuffle with one's significant other. Far from it is the truth. It details the loss her her stepmom with whom she had a complicated relationship, one which the loss of is almost as difficult as their tumultuous communications; at least when one is alive there is something to rebel against. Later, in another poem listed as "After 'The Wreck of the Hesperus' by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow," she writes: Isn't it funny? How the cold numbs everything but grief. If we could light up the room with pain, we'd be such a glorious fire."-Lashed to the Helm, All Stiff and StarkThis quote, according to some online Googling, is oft quoted and with good reason. It's beautiful, and it takes the terrible aspects of grief and turns sufferers into Phoenix-esque glory. Finally, my last love of hers (though I've definitely not listed all) is this: "I used to think it was like a light bulb, life, dangling in the chest, asking to be switched on. But it's not the light that's ever in question, rather, what's your brilliant, glaring wattage? What do you dare to gleam out and reflect? If I were to fall (sabotaged wax, torn pinion), I'd want to fall from the terrifying height of her [the moon], the dust of my years crazy and flashing lit up by the victory of my disastrous flight." -The Other WishIf these quotes don't speak for themselves, then I cannot help you. I think it is obvious her work is worth your time.

  • Stephanie
    2018-11-25 18:31

    Her words taste so good.-----Some lines I want to remember:"I'm thinking about people and trees and how I wish I could be silent more, be more tree than anything else, less clumsy and loud, less crow, more cool white pine, and how it's hard not to always want something else, not just to let the savage grass grow.""I swear, I'll try harder not to miss as much: the tree, or how your fingers under still sleep-stunned sheetscoaxed all my colors back.""...there is so much to remember and swallow.""The heart wants her horses back.""That tree,that one willowy thing over there,can save a life, you know? It savesby not trying, a leaf like some noteslipped under the locked blue door(bathtub full, despair's drunk),a small live letter that says only, Stay.""I thought everything was behind me:death, and dying, and sickness.I didn't know I was changing my life --that I would have done anything,that what was left of me would becomeso ruthless to survive.""You're the muscle I cute from the bone and still the boneremembers, still it wants (so much, it wants)the flesh back, the real thing,if only to rail against it...""How strange this silent longing for death,as if you could make the sun not come up""Her job,her work, was to let the machineof survival break down,make the factory fail,to know that this war was winless,to know that she would singlehandedlydestroy us all.""I want to be the rough clothesyou can't sleep in.""swam like something ordinary,something worthy of the sea.""It goes like this: water, land, water. Like a waltz.I am in no hurry to stop believing we are supposedto sway like this, that we too are immense and calling out.""Say you'd still want this: us alive,right here, feeling lucky."

  • Jess
    2018-12-15 12:31

    "What I mean is: none of this is chaos.Immigration, cross the river, the blood of us.It goes like this: water, land, water. Like a waltz."This was a beautiful, beautiful collection. I feel like a lot of popular poetry I hear about lately/see recced constantly (not naming names) is all about making explicit, sweeping, often cliche statements, and it just never really gets me. I don't like when there's nothing to unpack, nothing that sits on your tongue for longer than a minute. What I find compelling about poetry is the specifics, and Ada Limón is SO good at them."It was a caveof bitten bones and snake skins, eggshell dust,and charred scraps of a frozen over flame."So many of her poems are rooted in certain places, at certain times - moments even. They reach down and touch all the Little Things of the world, make you feel their textures and smell their smells. But she always ties everything back to humans. It's not just a snapshot of the world; it's glimpses into how we experience it.As is usually the case, I thought some of the poems in here were better than others. Sometimes that was a case of the writing itself, and sometimes it was just the subject matter, and whether or not that appealed to me personally. If I went back and looked there'd probably be about six poems or so that I'd pick out as favorites, ones I'd read again and again. But I really enjoyed reading the whole collection. Her command of language in a lot of them was so dang GOOD that I went back and read them aloud to myself alone in my room.A solid 4 stars and I'm definitely going to check out her other stuff!

  • Nick
    2018-11-29 12:44

    I had the pleasure of seeing Ada Limon speak and perform a few of the poems through this collection at Denver University a few weeks ago. Afterwards I felt as if my body was raw and left out in the cool grass under dusk. Limon has such a strong voice, and her poems read just as powerful, with an unignorable aloofness to them. Her idiosyncrasy with 'place' is paraded throughout Bright Dead Things, and make your inner wanderlust crave, yet without taking away the sense of home that sits right underneath our feet. Highly recommended for a warm spring day, with a cool breeze caressing the trees.