Article image

Beautiful Quotes From U.S. Poet Laureate Ada Limón

On July 12, 2022, poet Ada Limón became the 24th Poet Laureate of the United States — the first Latina to ever receive the accolade. Her work has been described as “powerfully observant” and “genuine,” and is filled with self-discovery; Limón herself said she sees her poetry as an intimate reflection, a deeply personal portrait that makes readers feel like she’s a close friend.

Limón grew up in Sonoma, California, and at 15 years old, she decided to pursue the craft of poetry after reading a poem titled “One Art” by Elizabeth Bishop. “I really remember thinking I want to know how this is possible, I want to know how this is made,” she told PBS Newshour in 2022. “I was immediately drawn to not just the music and meaning of the poem but the form and the craft of the poem.”

Limón went on to publish six collected works and contribute to magazines such as The New Yorker and The Harvard Review. Her 2018 book The Carrying won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry, and her most recent collection, The Hurting Kind, features poems written by Limón as “gifts” to the people she could no longer see in person due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to her poetry, Limón has also published nonfiction works, including 2022’s The Shelter, and hosts a popular podcast called The Slowdown, which explores the modern world through the reading of one poem every day.

These 16 quotes highlight Limón’s thoughts on life and art, as well as excerpts from her poetry that illustrate her mastery of the art form — a mastery that would no doubt make her 15-year-old self proud.

I cannot tell anymore when a door opens or closes, / I can only hear the frame saying, Walk through.

Share Quote

People have done this before, but not us.

Share Quote

Caring for each other is a form of radical survival that we don't always take into account.

Share Quote

But love is impossible and it goes on / despite the impossible.

Share Quote

I will play on this blessed earth until I die.

Share Quote

Look, we are not unspectacular things. We’ve come this far, survived this much. What would happen if we decided to survive more? To love harder?

Share Quote

Poetry is a place where both grief and grace can live, where rage can be explored and examined, not simply exploited.

Share Quote

I'm afraid that I won't do the right thing / in the face of disaster. / Or, I'm afraid I will be stupidly brave.

Share Quote

I remembered what had been circling in me: I am beautiful. I am full of love. I am dying.

Share Quote

Desire is a tricky thing, the boiling of the body’s wants.

Share Quote

Mercy is not frozen in time, but flits about frantically, unsure where to land.

Share Quote

Don’t think about Laika in orbit. Don’t think about cringe and catastrophe.

Share Quote

I think a lot about the word “tenacity.” What it takes to survive in a world that is sometimes beautiful and sometimes hostile. I’m always amazed at the body’s willingness to continue, to keep going. The heart that keeps pumping, the lungs that keep breathing, the way the will to live can outsmart those other dark voices inside.

Share Quote

Perhaps we are hurtling our bodies towards the thing that will obliterate us, begging for love from the speeding passage of time.

Share Quote

One of the biggest things about poetry is that it holds all of humanity. It holds the huge and enormous and tumbling sphere of human emotions.

Share Quote

How masterful and mad is hope.

Share Quote

Featured image credit: MANDEL NGAN/ AFP via Getty Images

Author image
About the Author
Darren Orf
Darren lives in Portland, Oregon, has two cats, and writes about science, technology, nature, and history.
Play more header background
Play more icon
Daily Question
Who said, "No need to hurry. No need to sparkle. No need to be anybody but oneself"?

More Inspiration

happiness theme icon

Maybe happiness isn’t what you believe, but who you believe.

separator icon
Phoebe Waller-Bridge
motivation theme icon

The quality of your life depends quite a bit on the quality of attention you project out onto the world.

separator icon
David Brooks
hope theme icon

Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone.

separator icon
Alan Watts
love theme icon

Maybe who we are isn't so much about what we do, but rather what we're capable of when we least expect it.

separator icon
Jodi Picoult
wisdom theme icon

Mistakes are part of the game. It's how well you recover from them, that's the mark of a great player.

separator icon
Alice Cooper
happiness theme icon

One does not get better but different and older and that is always a pleasure.

separator icon
Gertrude Stein
motivation theme icon

If one has no sense of humor, one is in trouble.

separator icon
Betty White
hope theme icon

Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world.

separator icon
Miyamoto Musashi
love theme icon

A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.

separator icon
Yoko Ono
wisdom theme icon

The chief prevention against getting old is to remain astonished.

separator icon
Kevin Kelly
happiness theme icon

When we sow a seed, we plant a narrative of future possibility.

separator icon
Sue Stuart-Smith