August 15, 2022

Getting to Know Ada Limón, U.S. Poet Laureate

Ada Limón  (Photo by Lucas Marquardt)

Our new Poet Laureate of the United States is Ada Limón. 

Sample her poetry with two of her poems:
"Late Summer after a Panic Attack" 
"Triumph Like a Girl" 

In the PBS video segment below, she talks about the path to that position - and also about groundhogs, Kentucky bluegrass, pokeweed, and, of course, poetry


She is the author of six poetry collectionsThe Hurting Kind (2022, Milkweed Editions); The Carrying (2018, Milkweed Editions), which won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry; Bright Dead Things (2015, Milkweed Editions), a finalist for the National Book Award, the National Books Critics Circle Award, and the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award; Sharks in the Rivers (2010, Milkweed Editions); Lucky Wreck (2005, Autumn House Press, reissued 2021); and This Big Fake World (2005, Pearl Editions).

She is also the host of the excellent poetry podcast The Slowdown.

Her website is


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August 5, 2022

Prompt: Reunions

50th Class Reunion (7142738821)

For our September issue, our theme is reunions. The first thing that comes to mind for me is school reunions. That is especially the case now because I am on a reunion committee for my high school class. We have been planning it for three years because the COVID pandemic delayed it twice. It is on for October and I have lots of thoughts about seeing some of the more than 600 kids I graduated with again.

I found a few reunion poems online as models. One is "Reunion" by Dana Gioia. Here are the opening stanzas.

This is my past where no one knows me.
These are my friends whom I can’t name—
Here in a field where no one chose me,
The faces older, the voices the same.

Why does this stranger rise to greet me?
What is the joke that makes him smile,
As he calls the children together to meet me,
Bringing them forward in single file?

A second example is "Written on the Eve of my 20th High School Reunion, Which I Was Not Able to Attend" by A.E. Stallings. Here is how the poem begins:

Just what I needed,
Just when the dreams had almost totally receded,

The dreams of roles for which I learned no lines and knew no cues,
Dreams of pop quizzes with no pants on and no shoes,

Just when I understood I was no longer among
Those ephemeral immortals, the gauche and pitiable young,

Suddenly come phone calls, messages sift out of the air
To ask who will be there...

Maybe "reunion" makes you think of the family variety. Read "Family Reunion" by Rita Dove which begins like this:

Thirty seconds into the barbecue,
my Cleveland cousins
have everyone speaking
Southern—broadened vowels
and dropped consonants,
whoops and caws.
It's more osmosis than magic...

Another "Family Reunion" poem is by Maxine Kumin, and interestingly it also features some food.

The week in August you come home,
adult, professional, aloof,
we roast and carve the fatted calf
— in our case home-grown pig, the chine
garlicked and crisped, the applesauce
hand-pressed. Hand-pressed the greengage wine..

Our model poem choice for this call for submissions is "50th Reunion: Westside High" by William Trowbridge from his collection Put This On, Please.
The poem begins this way:

How did we get here so suddenly,
with our bags and baggage, looking
the worse for wear, the ones misfortune

hasn't wrung into anything-but-perfect
strangers? Old buddies, old loves,
old antagonists chat at the bar

in the Hilton lobby; white-haired, no-haired
dyed-haired, ringers for those oldsters
so irrelevant to proms and cruising,

to study halls and going steady—to life
as we knew it. The smithereens
of yesteryear...

Our August call for submissions is a reunion poem about school, family or maybe just meeting up again with one or a few people. Read all the poems linked above in their entirety and see what synapses fire for you.

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