Reading this collection is like putting together each rung of a ladder that stretches toward the sky by sinking into its watery reflection ... there is nothing easy about Limón’s poetry, despite its straightforward language and tone. Her attention to form, though not formal by strictest definition, shows obvious care ... Everywhere, Limón’s imagery is visceral and easily visible to the mind’s eye—horses, mountains, water, dogs, owls and birds make repeat visits throughout Bright Dead Things, but in new guises with new intentions. Her use of sound and repetition strikes the ear as balanced, always seeming in proportion to the poem’s action ... Reading Bright Dead Things is a pleasure, not because the book in its weaving from discomfort to near-comfort is easy, but because by the end, we can believe that living any style or form of life is enough, no matter its final shape.
I wanted people to hear this voice. It’s not one of a particular person, but of a consciousness. It’s the voice people ignore in the in-between moments of life that races through sensations, emotions, memories and predictions. Aptly fit into verse, all of these silenced flashes of human experience get their play time ... Limón’s meticulous placement of every piece appears chronological, but in an almost surreal way. I first felt that we were following the journey of a female speaker towards womanhood and beyond, but quickly realized that this book could span a moment, a day, a month, or a lifetime ... She makes these connections between everyday moments and her deepest anxieties, each written in a stream of consciousness that is so organic, it feels like the speaker surprises herself ... Limón’s writing has a Whitman-esque quality to it in the way the speaker weaves back and forth between abstract language and concrete images, all while sharing her present experience with her readers.
...poetry should transform lived reality into a new plane. Limón’s poems are like fires in this way: charring the page, but leaving a smoke that remains past the close of the book ... Bright Dead Things is an outdoor book, but this is not to say that Limón can’t write a poem about domestic and mundane spaces ... The big-sky poems of this book are well-contrasted with heart-skipping narratives like 'The Riveter' ... Bright Dead Things offers many answers, but is equally appealing for its questions.
Bright Dead Things by Ada Limón is musical, emotional, and honest, its verse muscular and unflinching. Limón’s wears her heart on her sleeve, and in this collection that heart takes the form of a huge, pounding horse’s heart ... The poems are interested in the balance between internal and external loci of control, how someone may want to be known and identified on their terms, not lumped into categories and stereotypes ... Limón’s poetry regularly rebukes the ironic mode commonly employed by a number of her contemporaries, and opts for unabashed and strong emotional language. This is not to say that her verse lacks texture or vivid imagery; rather, moments in Limón’s poetry are heightened by the combination of lexical playfulness and emotional depth ... The poems in Bright Dead Things give off their own light, moving with terrific force and speed. Without sacrificing a terrific eye for detail and image, they draw out the emotions that charge us and the landscape we cover between homes.
...Limón narrates experiences in bewildering landscapes that should otherwise feel familiar. Perhaps feelings of alienation result from intersections of identity; perhaps they are the cost of memory, a theme woven through each of the collection’s four sections ... Recurring instances of anxiety about mortality in Limón’s poems complicate experiences so richly written and felt.