Bright Dead Things

Finalist, National Book Awards 2015 for Poetry

Bright Dead Things by Ada Limón book cover, 2015
ISBN 978-1571314710
Milkweed Editions

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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. Her work is consistently generous and accessible—though every observed moment feels complexly thought, felt, and lived.

Judges Citation

The poems in Bright Dead Things serve as the found candle in the soul’s power outage, the last flashlight in the heart’s storm, witnesses to the wreckage of loss. Ada Limón does not shy away from the wild or the personal, or as she writes in “What Remains Grows Ravenous,” Something you can see yourself in, in the dark. Simply put, she writes the impossible: lyrically, truthfully, with a voice and complexity whose most reliable source is love.