Bright Dead Things
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 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.

Bright Dead Things Details

TitleBright Dead Things
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseSep 15th, 2015
PublisherMilkweed Editions
ISBN-139781571314710
Rating
GenrePoetry, Adult

Bright Dead Things Review

  • Carmen
    January 1, 1970
    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 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 [email protected](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.
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  • Ellie
    January 1, 1970
    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 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.
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  • Jenny (Reading Envy)
    January 1, 1970
    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 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
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  • Brian
    January 1, 1970
    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 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.
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  • Jenna
    January 1, 1970
    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 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.
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  • Laura McNeal
    January 1, 1970
    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 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.
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  • Erica
    January 1, 1970
    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.
  • Sharon
    January 1, 1970
    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 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.
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  • Mark
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Ken
    January 1, 1970
    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 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.
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  • Roberto
    January 1, 1970
    I feel like this is a collection that really speaks to and for us at y'kno kinda middle-age..with history behind us but really just beginning to settle and make plans for the future. This was great, affecting, full of appreciation for life and simple things, but also full of loss and displacement, the idea of making a home, leaving things behind.. can't wait to read her new collection.
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  • S.
    January 1, 1970
    This includes some stellar poems including the one that convinced me to buy it, How To Triumph Like A Girl. (link: http://gulfcoastmag.org/journal/252/h...)These 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 This includes some stellar poems including the one that convinced me to buy it, How To Triumph Like A Girl. (link: http://gulfcoastmag.org/journal/252/h...)These 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: https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/r...
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  • Adriana Martinez Figueroa
    January 1, 1970
    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 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.
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  • Ace Boggess
    January 1, 1970
    Sharp, crisp lines. Deeply insightful verse. This book is something to experience as much as read.
  • Lulufrances
    January 1, 1970
    Thoroughly enjoyed this collection (perhaps even more than the previous Limón I read), and devoured it on this balmy early November day outside a café in a very happy place moment. Good memories.
  • Elena ( The Queen Reads )
    January 1, 1970
    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.
  • Hizatul Akmah
    January 1, 1970
    actual rating: 4.6/5this poetry collection comforts me in a way that makes me feeling all nostalgic and melancholic. i'd highly recommend everyone to read this book.
  • Haley
    January 1, 1970
    I really enjoyed the mood of these poems (especially the ones set in Kentucky) - I felt they were really accessible (in the best possible way) with incredible imagery. I also really liked the organization of the sections. Here's a favorite from pg.74-5:Oh Please, Let it be LightningWe were crossing the headwaters of the Susquehanna River in our new carwe didn't quite have the money for but it was slick and silver and we named it after the local strop club next to the car wash:The Spearmint I really enjoyed the mood of these poems (especially the ones set in Kentucky) - I felt they were really accessible (in the best possible way) with incredible imagery. I also really liked the organization of the sections. Here's a favorite from pg.74-5:Oh Please, Let it be LightningWe were crossing the headwaters of the Susquehanna River in our new carwe didn't quite have the money for but it was slick and silver and we named it after the local strop club next to the car wash:The Spearmint Rhino, and this wasn't longafter your mother said she wasn't sureif one of your ancestors died in childbirth or was struck by lightning, there just wasn'tanyone left to set the story straight, and westarted to feel old. And it snowed. The iceand salt and mud on the car made it looklike how we felt on the inside. The dogwas asleep on my lap. We had seven more hours before our bed in the bluegrass would greet uslike some southern cousin we forgot we had. Sometimes, you have to look around at the life you've made and sort of nod at it, like someone moving their head up and down to a tune they like. New York City seemed yearsaway and all the radio stations had unfamiliarcall letters and talked about God, the one that starts his name with a capital and wantsyou not to get so naked all the time. Sometimes, there seems to be a halfway pointbetween where you've been and everywhere else, and we were there. All the trees were dead, and the hills looked flat like in real bad landscapepaintings in some nowhere gallery off an interstatebut still, it looked kind of pretty. Not becauseof the snow, but because you somehow found a decent song on the dial and there you were, with your marvelous mouth, singing full-lunged,driving dull-speed into the gloomy thunderhead, glittery and blazing and alive. 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 shining and mad, and so furiously hot it could kill us.
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  • Leigh Anne
    January 1, 1970
    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 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.
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  • Marin
    January 1, 1970
    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 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.
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  • Erika Schoeps
    January 1, 1970
    Slim but mighty book of poetry. Limón's work is readable but enjoyable to continually dissect if you stick with it. Serious themes (death, migration) are discussed with natural images, mostly animals. More than a few ended with a conclusion of sensual reflection-- getting lost in the feeling of the moment and denying any firm message. Limón is only floating ideas past you. Her best poems are always about horses.
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  • Melissa
    January 1, 1970
    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."
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  • Michelle
    January 1, 1970
    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.
  • Liz Mc2
    January 1, 1970
    Reading this cemented my love of Ada Limón’s poetry. The most memorable for me are the poems about not giving up, the ones I copied and kept as affirmations, even though I don’t think they are necessarily her best poems (too easy? Too obvious? Too preachy? She is rarely those things). Here it was the first one in the collection, “How to Triumph Like a Girl,” in which the speaker identifies with a mare (the poet lives in Kentucky horse country). It ends:Don’t you want to lift my shirt and seethe Reading this cemented my love of Ada Limón’s poetry. The most memorable for me are the poems about not giving up, the ones I copied and kept as affirmations, even though I don’t think they are necessarily her best poems (too easy? Too obvious? Too preachy? She is rarely those things). Here it was the first one in the collection, “How to Triumph Like a Girl,” in which the speaker identifies with a mare (the poet lives in Kentucky horse country). It ends: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.A lot of these poems are about the illness and death of her stepmother, about noticing the small beauties and connections that keep us living and hoping in the midst of hard times.
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  • Sean
    January 1, 1970
    I came to this collection after reading a tweet praising Limón's "The Raincoat" (https://poets.org/poem/raincoat). I really enjoyed the power and visual narrative in that poem and wanted more so I ordered Bright Dead Things and The Carrying (which has The Raincoat). Bright Dead Things Came to the library first, but much of it wasn't like The Raincoat. I think from reading this collection I realized that I really enjoy poems with clear images/cinematography, very narrative and image heavy pieces. I came to this collection after reading a tweet praising Limón's "The Raincoat" (https://poets.org/poem/raincoat). I really enjoyed the power and visual narrative in that poem and wanted more so I ordered Bright Dead Things and The Carrying (which has The Raincoat). Bright Dead Things Came to the library first, but much of it wasn't like The Raincoat. I think from reading this collection I realized that I really enjoy poems with clear images/cinematography, very narrative and image heavy pieces. While there were a few in this collection that felt like that (Field Bling, The Riveter, Country of Resurrection, Service), most felt more abstract, and not my jam.The library just got The Carrying on hold for me however, so I think I'll give that one a shot to see if Limón's work moves more towards that narrative/imagistic style.
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  • Jordan
    January 1, 1970
    “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.”Ada Limón‘s poems on death make Bright Dead Things worth a read, to feel the tug on your emotions. the writing style is very clear & very powerful. that being said, this just wasn’t for me. i wasn’t very impressed with the collection as a whole. a few of my favorites: The Conditional, Home Fires, The Good Fight, Accident Report in the Tall Tall Weeds, What Remains “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.”Ada Limón‘s poems on death make Bright Dead Things worth a read, to feel the tug on your emotions. the writing style is very clear & very powerful. that being said, this just wasn’t for me. i wasn’t very impressed with the collection as a whole. a few of my favorites: The Conditional, Home Fires, The Good Fight, Accident Report in the Tall Tall Weeds, What Remains Grows Ravenous, Miracle Fish, Mowing.
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  • Miranda Hency
    January 1, 1970
    This book is so good!! I hadn’t read a whole collection of poetry in a while and this just made me feel so IN it. She is so good with words and surprises and describing grief and resistance! Highly highly recommend. Plus she is just so ~cool~ lol.
  • Jenna Scherer
    January 1, 1970
    Ada Limon, man. She's so good.
  • Max Potthoff
    January 1, 1970
    "Sometimes, you have to look around / at the life you've made and sort of nod at it, / like someone moving their head up and down / to a tune they like."
  • Chelsea
    January 1, 1970
    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 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).
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