Ada Limón

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Ada Limón
Born (1976-03-28) March 28, 1976 (age 43)
Alma materUniversity of Washington,
New York University

Ada Limón (born March 28, 1976) is an American poet.

Early years and education[edit]

Limón, who is of Mexican American descent, grew up in Sonoma, California, before attending drama school at the University of Washington, where she studied theatre. After taking writing courses from professors, including Colleen J. McElroy, she went on to receive her MFA from New York University in 2001, where she studied with Sharon Olds, Philip Levine, Marie Howe, Mark Doty, Agha Shahid Ali, and Tom Sleigh. Her graduate class at NYU included poets Jennifer L. Knox, Gregory Pardlo, Jason Schneiderman, Kazim Ali, and Kathleen Graber.[citation needed][1]

Upon graduation, she received a fellowship to live and write at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts. In 2003 she received a grant from the New York Foundation for the Arts, and in the same year won the Chicago Literary Award for Poetry.[citation needed]


After 12 years in New York City, where she worked for various magazines such as Martha Stewart Living, GQ, and Travel + Leisure, she now lives in Lexington, Kentucky and Sonoma, California, where she writes and teaches.

Limón's first book, Lucky Wreck, was chosen by Jean Valentine as the winner of the Autumn House Poetry Prize in 2005, while her second book, This Big Fake World, was the winner of the Pearl Poetry Prize in 2006. The two books came out within less than a year of each other. In a 2014 article in Compose magazine, she stated: "I went from having no books at all, to having two in the span of a year. I felt like I had won the lottery, well, without the money. I suppose, in my life, I’ve never done things the ordinary way. I’m either deep in the bottom of the well or nowhere near water."[2] She serves on the faculty of Queens University of Charlotte low-residency M.F.A. program, and the "24 Pearl Street" on-line program for the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center.

When her third book, Sharks in the Rivers (Milkweed Editions, 2010) was released, a reviewer writing in The Brooklyn Rail observed: "Unlike much contemporary poetry, Limón’s work isn’t text-derivative or deconstructivist. She personalizes her homilies, stamping them with the authenticity of invention and self-discovery."[3] Limón's fourth book, Bright Dead Things, was released in 2015. She was a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award for Poetry.

While Limón is still at work on two fiction projects as well as non-fiction pieces, her poems continue to be published widely. Her poem "State Bird" appeared in the June 2, 2014 issue of The New Yorker, and her poem "How to Triumph Like a Girl" (2013), which portrays different aspects of being a lady horse, was recently awarded the Pushcart Prize. Her work has also appeared in the Harvard Review and the Pleiades.

She has been a beneficiary of the Kentucky Foundation for Women.

Awards and honors[edit]



  • Limón, Ada (2006). Lucky wreck. Autumn House Press.
  • This Big Fake World, Pearl Editions, 2006 ISBN 978-1-888219-35-7
  • — (2010). Sharks in the rivers. Milkweed Editions.
  • Bright Dead Things, Milkweed Editions, 2015 ISBN 978-1-57131-925-8
  • The Carrying: Poems, Milkweed Editions, 2018 ISBN 978-1-57131-512-0
List of poems
Title Year First published Reprinted/collected
Sharks in the rivers 2010 Limón, Ada (2010). Sharks in the rivers. Milkweed Editions.
State Bird 2014 Limón, Ada (June 2, 2014). "State Bird". The New Yorker. 90 (15): 30.
Overpass 2017 Limón, Ada (December 4, 2017). "Overpass". The New Yorker. 93 (39): 27.


  1. ^
  2. ^ Windsor, Suzannah (April 24, 2014). "An Interview with Poet Ada Limón". Retrieved 2017-06-13.
  3. ^ Wright, Jeffrey Cyphers (December 7, 2010). "Review of Ada Limón’s Sharks in the Rivers. Retrieved 2017-06-13.
  4. ^ "2013 National Book Awards". NBF. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
  5. ^ "2015 National Book Awards". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  6. ^ Hillel Italie (March 14, 2018). "Zadie Smith, Anna Burns among winners of critics prizes". The Washington Post. The Associated Press. Retrieved March 15, 2019.
  7. ^ "Announcing the 2019 PEN America Literary Awards Finalists". PEN America. 2019-01-15. Retrieved 2019-02-23.

External links[edit]