Poet Ada Limón, who moved from the fast-paced publishing world of New York City to the pastoral landscape of Lexington’s horse country in 2011, is on the longlist for the National Book Award in poetry.
Her Bright Dead Things, slated to be published Sept. 24 by Milkweed Editions, is one of 10 contenders for the prize including two previous winners: Terrance Hayes for How to be Drawn and Marilyn Hacker for A Stranger’s Mirror: New and Selected Poems, 1994-2014.
The publisher describes Bright Dead Things as, “A book of bravado and introspection, of 21st century feminist swagger and harrowing terror and loss, this fourth collection considers how we build our identities out of place and human contact—tracing in intimate detail the various ways the speaker’s sense of self both shifts and perseveres as she moves from New York City to rural Kentucky, loses a dear parent, ages past the capriciousness of youth, and falls in love.”
In a 2013 Herald-Leader profile by Candace Chaney, Limón said, “My life here is a quieter life than the one I had in New York City. I cherish the silence, the natural beauty, the time to write and focus fully on my own creative work.”
By pure coincidence, Limón is slated to speak at 7 p.m. next Wednesday, Sept. 23, at Christ Church Cathedral, 166 Market Street, as part of the church’s Kentucky Writers Series. Admission is free.
Finalists will be announced Oct. 14 and winners will be announced at a New York ceremony Nov. 18.
Lexington’s last splash in the National Book Awards was in 2011, when University of Kentucky English professor Nikky Finney won the poetry prize for her Head Off & Split. In 2013, Finney moved back to her native South Carolina to take a post at the University of South Carolina and be closer to her family.