Limón responds in her poetry to what she identifies as an ecological imperative to re-describe our relationship to 'nature' in a manner that isn’t merely instrumental. The moving personal dramas that her poems detail can never be separated from the landscape in which they occur ... Her poetry, which can feel so intimate and self-revealing, is almost constantly political at the same time ... What I might contribute, at the expense of seeming geeky, are some comments on the technical brilliance of Limón’s work, as it is seldom mentioned elsewhere ... Most of the lexicon and sentence patterning throughout this poem— and Limón’s other poems— could easily be spoken in conversation. It’s characteristic of Limón’s style that her language reads as both speech and as heightened 'non-speech.' It’s a difficult balancing act ... Limón isn’t a naive writer; her poetics are informed and slyly in conversation with a historical body of literature ... The poems in all four sections of The Hurting Kind cultivate wisdom in domesticity ... There are endless things to say about the articulate, complex emotional resonance of the poems in this book. Still, what Limón says about 'a life' is true as well for her book: 'You can’t sum it up.'
To praise a book as luminous or dazzling is usually to resort to a blurber’s cliché. However, Ada Limón’s sixth collection of poetry, The Hurting Kind, really does shimmer, albeit in the specific sense of the word the late anthropologist Deborah Bird Rose employed. This shimmer is essentially the radiant pulse of life across ecologies, as understood by the Aboriginal Yarralin people of Australia, among whom Rose conducted research on flying foxes ... Limón’s new work continues and expands the vulnerability and ecstasy of her previous collections ... Wild and domestic, the landscapes and animals of both places come to life in her work ... offers insight into that process [of identity construction] and how one can feel its benefit creatively and ethically ... In these decidedly pessimistic and chaotic times, Limón’s radical sincerity and goodwill feel revolutionary ... a field guide for living on a damaged planet—for acknowledging the suffering inflicted by human choices and the way people often unmake ecologies and also the way people could choose to preserve and remake them ... Life-affirming can be another blurber’s cliché, but Limón’s affirmations shimmer so brightly they cannot be denied.
For fans of previous collections, The Hurting Kind displays familiar forms — slim paragraphs with entrancing line breaks; blanks between stanzas that hold tension but don’t make you hold your breath. The horses and birds and vistas are there, yes, but there’s more family and maybe more grief, too. Throughout is the trademark wonder, and blown-out perceptivity, underscoring Limón’s clarion melancholy.
For poet Ada Limón, evidence of poetry is everywhere ... The Hurting Kind is a testament to the power of such sensitivity ... Limón is acutely aware of the natural world in The Hurting Kind. And she has a knack for acknowledging its little mysteries in order to fully capture its history and abundance ... The power of attention, Limón conveys, is in finding out just how an individual's experience might fit into the collective experience ... The Hurting Kind asks for our attention to stay tender.
Her hope is tentative, hedging. Limón’s consolations are small but strong, and when her poems look to the future, it’s usually in the service of creating a connection in the here and now ... That 'you' is all important in Limón’s work — a wide-open beloved who is us, of course. Such a capacious embrace is a consolation, and it’s no mean literary feat ... The Hurting Kind, strikes me as a transitional work, less certain of itself and its purpose than its predecessor, but also trying some new things, including longer poems ... There are a few poems that don’t quite fly, landing too soon on a sentimental or overly hopeful conclusion or overreaching for emotional heft ... And yet, I soon find myself forgetting my little qualms, so grateful am I for Limón’s powerfully observant eye. There are many wonderful poems here and a handful of genuine masterpieces ... It’s music — Limón’s excellent ear for the rhythms of speech and the sounds of sentences ... If Limón sometimes looks too hard for the bright side, it’s because she acknowledges the darkness everywhere. It’s only when a poet pretends that the mysteries of the unspeakable can be solved with words, that language can and should take the uncertainty out of the questions, that poems fail. Limón, though she is sometimes guilty of optimism, has no such illusions.
As much about the delights of our convoluted existence and universe as it is about the suffering that all living entities endure ... Thematically, this is ground that Limón has covered in past collections, yet—again like each season—it feels decidedly new, and deeply generative. Limón calibrates exteriority and interiority to great effect, shifting in and out of distance and proximity, from the vast span of nature to the minutiae of our lives ... That Limón is able to inhabit both past and present in the same moment is part of what makes her poetry so evocative; that she can express it so finely is what makes her an exceptional poet ... In all her work, Limon examines language, often questioning rubrics and those who establish them. She is both icon and revolutionary, breaking arbitrary rules, especially if they seek to contain what is poetry, and who it is for ... There is a gorgeous irony in her artful and heartful work: she eloquently expresses the limitations of language to capture the most complicated aspects of our existence, whether it is nature or love or grief ... Through this stunning collection, throughout her brilliant career, Limón manages the impossible—summing up life—from a multitude of perspectives, unforgettable images, and with verse and silence.
Limón affords constant dignity to those whose fragilities are too often framed as liabilities, those who can’t (or won’t) avoid the incessant constellating of experience and memory ... The Hurting Kind carves space for those who accept their role as witness ... The Hurting Kind refuses numb detachment or an easy forgetting.
The poems in The Hurting Kind embody such an existential tension: the terror of dislocation and loneliness, the intention to record (or see) things as they are ... a book of living language — and nowhere more than in the way words animate the poems ... I love a poem that makes me laugh. Still, let’s not overlook the technical achievement: the flow of the images, one into another, the echoes that reverberate almost like slant rhymes ... Scene is an odd word to use in regard to a poem, but for Limón’s work it feels right ... a quieter book — but no less fierce for being so ... When Limón exclaims, in the last line of the poem and the collection, 'I am asking you to touch me,' she is writing out of the darkness of the pandemic, but she is also addressing something more universal and profound. What are words worth if they can’t help to bridge the gaps between us? It’s a question many of us are asking as we try to navigate this fallen world.
Limón affords constant dignity to those whose fragilities are too often framed as liabilities, those who can’t (or won’t) avoid the incessant constellating of experience and memory ... Again and again, The Hurting Kind carves space for those who accept their role as witness, those who 'endure time…loss and grief and reckoning' ('Banished Windows') with grace and conviction ... For all life’s sufferings, through a myriad of hurts, The Hurting Kind refuses numb detachment or an easy forgetting.
... nearly 60 poems that run like a river in early spring: serene and musical from a distance but, up close, piercing and boundless and full of unexpected life ... Limón demonstrates her singular skill, drawing on both the natural world and humanity, both broken and beautiful ... Limón's poems often perform this kind of sleight of hand, hiding a kernel of pain inside a loosely closed fist. Each time, however, the magician's palm opens to reveal not emptiness but peace or light.
Sparkling ... The poet’s bright and clear-eyed lyrics extract the most profound tenderness from the simplest moments ... Limón measures time in evocative, unexpected ways ... An understated, powerful, unforgettable collection, and no doubt one of the best of this year.
Tender, arresting ... Limón’s descriptions of animals are richly evocative ... Limón’s crystalline language is a feast for the senses, bringing monumental significance to the minuscule and revealing life in every blade of grass.