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First Latina U.S. Poet Laureate Ada Limón will bring words to life at a reading in Jackson

A woman with dark hair, a red floral shirt and cheetah print sandals smiles while sitting on a bench with pillows. Around her are green plants and behind her is a blurred yard with green grass and trees.
Ayna Lorenzo
MacArthur Fellows Program
Ada Limón is the 24th poet laureate of the United States.

Current U.S. Poet Laureate Ada Limón is coming to the Tetons to give a free talk on May 21

Limón is the first Latina to hold the prestigious title of U.S. Poet Laureate and is also the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and MacArthur “genius grant.” She’s published six books of poetry, including “The Carrying,” which won the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Limón’s signature project as 24th poet laureate is called “You Are Here" and focuses on how poetry can help connect us to the natural world. She recently wrote a poem titled “In Praise of Mystery: A Poem for Europa,” which will be engraved on NASA’s Europa Clipper Spacecraft and travel to the second moon of Jupiter. The spacecraft will be launched this fall and is expected to take five years to get to its final destination.

Limón will speak at the Center for the Arts in Jackson this week as part of the Teton County Library’s Page to Podium series. The event started in 2006 and brings nationally recognized and award-winning writers to the community. It has recently hosted authors like Ta-Nehisi Coates and Roxanne Gay.

Leah Shlachter is the adult program coordinator at the Teton County Library and helped organize the event. She said Limón is what she calls a “gateway” poet.

“I think a lot of people are afraid of poetry and think that it's inaccessible and cryptic and riddles that they won't solve. But I think Ada’s poetry is something that anyone who reads it will feel something,” she said.

Shlachter said that to her, a lot of poetry is about what it means to be a human in the world and what our responsibilities are to one another. She said Limón comes at this throughline from a variety of lenses and angles.

“She tells this through many different forms, like the natural world, imagined spaces and real spaces that exist in the real world, environments that people see and experience every day,” she said.

For Shlachter, one of poetry’s strengths is how easy it is to make and share – you don’t need expensive tools or equipment, just words. She said it also has a unique ability to simultaneously communicate about that which is both very simple and very complex.

“That’s what we're all constantly grappling with – how to relate to each other and be understood and understand others, and I think poetry gets to it in a very beautiful way,” she said.

Limón’s free talk will include a reading and time for a Q&A with audience members. She’ll also be available to sign books and chat after the event.

Hannah Habermann is the rural and tribal reporter for Wyoming Public Radio. She has a degree in Environmental Studies and Non-Fiction Writing from Middlebury College and was the co-creator of the podcast Yonder Lies: Unpacking the Myths of Jackson Hole. Hannah also received the Pattie Layser Greater Yellowstone Creative Writing & Journalism Fellowship from the Wyoming Arts Council in 2021 and has taught backpacking and climbing courses throughout the West.
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