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The Carrying by Ada Limón review – from the heart, unvarnished

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US poet Ada Limón writes with simple and disarming honesty – for people rather than other poets

I had never read Ada Limón when I dipped into Bright Dead Thingsand The Carrying (published simultaneously in Britain), but have since discovered that Limón is far from an unknown quantity in her native US. Bright Dead Things, her fourth collection, was shortlisted for the National Book award and feted by Tracy K Smith, the US poet laureate. Limón has been published in the New Yorker and the New York Times. And she is that rare thing – a poet whose work sells.

It sells for the same reason that it spoke to me. I was ambushed by her power to move – several poems brought a lump to my throat. Yet her popularity is about more than accessibility. She never hides behind words but reveals herself through them – even when the risk is overexposure. She situates herself in her writing as a figure in a landscape – rural Kentucky – and her struggles (especially with fertility in Carrying) are set against this unheeding pastoral scene. In a recent interview, she said she thought it important that poets should not “just write poems for other poets”. She makes no apology for keeping it simple.

There is an aloneness in this poetry – even in company – and at the same time a generosity in the sharing with readers

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