In 2005, Ada Limón won the Autumn House Poetry Prize for her collection of poems titled “Lucky Wreck,” earning her publication of a full-length manuscript and $2,500.
Since then, she has continued writing and publishing poetry––garnering many accolades for her work.
17 years later, she was named the 24th Poet Laureate of the United States in 2022. She is among eight women to have held the position, and the first Latina.
“I love poetry for numerous reasons,” Limón said in an interview with BOMB Magazine. “But one essential reason is that poetry is the only creative writing art form that builds breath into it. It makes you breathe. It not only allows for silence, it demands it.”
There are no formal requirements needed to become Poet Laureate, but the recipients are often acclaimed writers that are highly respected in the community, according to loc.gov.
Each Poet Laureate brings something different to the position, and Limón seeks to bring diverse writers to the Library of Congress for readings and events and to give new poets a platform for their work to be showcased.
“It’s a very significant moment in history, to celebrate poems from different types of people,” said Limón to TIME. “I want to make sure that those voices are heard.”
This sentiment was echoed by Dr. Richard Magee, a professor at Sacred Heart and the Poet Laureate for Bethel, Conn.
“Having diverse representation is so important,” said Magee. “If we just see poets who don’t look like us, we get the wrong impression that poetry is just for one group or class. If we always read from the same group of poets, we will have less and less of a chance to see something new and interesting.”
As Poet Laureate for Bethel, Magee strives to foster community and build engagement for poets inside and outside of the classroom.
“The biggest part of the Poet Laureate position is serving as an ambassador for poetry,” said Magee. “Show that poetry is alive and vital and isn’t just something hidden in a dusty textbook that no one wants to open.”
Magee said that many students give up on poetry after being made to feel dumb for “misunderstanding” a poem. He wants to change that in his teaching.
Senior Matt Carrara, an English major with a minor in writing, spoke about this struggle and his found love for poetry.
“I hated poetry, I’ll be honest. But freshman year I was put in a poetry class, and our professor threw us a curveball where, by the end, we’re listening to Eminem, we’re listening to Bon Jovi, Bruce Spingsteen, and we’re like ‘woah, this is poetry, too.’ It made me start to appreciate it more. That was pretty transformational.”
Carrara is also the fiction editor for HeartLines, Sacred Heart’s online literary magazine.
Like Limón, HeartLines strives to give writers a platform for their work.
“I was very happy to see Limón had been named U.S. Poet Laureate,” said Magee.
“We’re both Californians, for one thing, but I also like how visual her poetry can be. She can take the ordinary and shine a new light on it and make it poetic and holy. Her poem ‘Give me This’ does this for me.”
Limón’s publications are available for purchase on her website, adalimon.net.