Ada Limón’s pitch-perfect fifth collection, “The Carrying,” is full of poems to savor and share. In it, she offers avenues to survival and persistence in the face of immense grief. Limón mourns her mother, her inability to get pregnant, political violence, and that her own body is wracked by chronic pain. She writes, “I hated the world, the pain of it that circles in us.”
Rather than indicated absence, the grief in this book has its own presence: “What if, instead of carrying/a child, I am supposed to carry grief?”
She writes with remarkable directness about painful experiences normally packaged in euphemism and, in doing so, invites the readers to enter a world where abundant joy exists alongside and simultaneous to loss. One doesn’t negate the other.
In “Instructions on Not Giving Up,” the speaker watches trees turn green in spring: “I’ll take it, the tree seems to say, a new slick leaf/unfurling like a fist, I’ll take it all.”
Elizabeth Hoover is a poet and poetry critic in Milwaukee.
By: Ada Limon.
Publisher: Milkweed Editions, 122 pages, $22.
Event: Ada Limon, William Brewer and Parneshia Jones, 6:30 p.m. Oct. 5, Open Book, 1011 Washington Av. S., Mpls.