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Bright Dead Things

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  5,277 ratings  ·  665 reviews
Bright Dead Things examines the chaos that is life, the dangerous thrill of living in a world you know you have to leave one day, and the search to find something that is ultimately “disorderly, and marvelous, and ours.”

A book of bravado and introspection, of 21st century feminist swagger and harrowing terror and loss, this fourth collection considers how we build our iden
Paperback, 105 pages
Published September 15th 2015 by Milkweed Editions (first published September 8th 2015)
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Average rating 4.24  · 
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 ·  5,277 ratings  ·  665 reviews

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Jun 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Carmen by: Instagram
Ada Limón is an amazing poet, with a strong distinctive voice. A feminist, rough-edged, American Latina, Kentucky/NYC/California/Nebraska/Tennessee voice. It's very good.

I'll show you some examples. I'll hide them under spoilers because I know some people don't like poetry. So, you can only read the ones that interest you or none at all.

(view spoiler)
Jan 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book made me want to be a poet. To make magic with words. To carve out beautiful, vivid, life-filled moments, to define grief or lust or both together.

This book made me write, such as I do. The words made me come to life, as only poetry can. It made me feel young again and my own age at the same time.

Limon writes about longing, and loss (her poems about her stepmother's death brought me painfully back to my mother's dying), and making a life. About New York City and Kentucky and other space
Lucy Dacus
Mar 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite books of poetry I've read in ages. It's rare to encounter such convincing optimism at such a high caliber of writing. Her hope sneaks up on you unnoticed until you feel it as your own. ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
These poems are in four numbered sections. The first seems to be about dislocation and isolation, the second about loss and grief.

I found most of the poems I liked in section three.

Some highlights:

"...Before now, I don't
know if I have ever loved anyone, or if
I have ever been loved, but men have
been very good to me, have seen
my absurd out-of-place-ness, my bent
grin and un-called-for loud laugh
and have wanted to love me for it,
have been so warm in their wanting
that sometimes I wanted to love t
Aug 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing

Each of these poems has a weight measured in depth; as a collection they create a perfect circle of teeth-gnashing humanity - a circumference dotted with points of joy, pain, celebration, humor and loss.

I was fortunate to see Limón in July of this year doing a reading here in Northern California. She read 11 poems, most of them new work - her presence and narrative voice complemented the words in poetic totality. I wish that she had read "The Great Blue Heron of Dunbar Road" found in this collec
Jun 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
I am gleaming. Promise you'll see me gleam.
-Ada Limon, from "Lashed to the Helm, All Stiff and Stark"

I went to this book seeking solace on the week of the Orlando massacre, the deadliest mass shooting in recent U.S. history, which was also a hate crime targeting the LGBTQ community and the Latinx community. I went to this book because I craved optimism and hope at a time when those qualities seemed hard to come by. And it's true that Ada Limon's strong-voiced lyric poems are woven through with p
Jan 01, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
Really well-wrought lyrical confessional poems with a hint of ironic distancing and the flat-surprise tone that is the earmark of contemporary young mainstream poets. Lovely for its thing, which is not my thing.
Laura McNeal
Nov 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Approachable in the nicest possible way, by which I mean you re-read lines for the thrill of hearing them again in your head, not because you're confused. Intelligent and warm and surprising and unafraid of simple candor. Like "Miracle Fish, a prose poem that begins "I used to pretend to believe in God. Mainly, I liked so much to talk to someone in the dark."

I also love the poems that tell longer, more complicated stories, all of which seem personal and yet circumspect. There's a palpable sense
Aug 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
this was such a lovely book. something that will always stay with me is the line about believing in the connection we all have to nature, each other, and the universe.
Taylor Harper
Jan 16, 2021 rated it really liked it
4 stars

vibrant, poignant, and wonderfully conversational. felt like those magical after hours of a small party, where you and just a few friends find yourselves huddled for a last call confessing everything that's been weighing both small and heavy on your heart. "The Riveter," in particular, is striking and haunting. as a collection, a brilliant reminder that loss is only so deep as the love that precedes and follows it.

recommend for anyone looking to read more poetry, which I'm certainly tryin
Yasameen Safaa
Isn’t it funny? How the cold numbs everything but grief.
Apr 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
As a poet, I read a lot of books of poetry. I read to challenge my own writing, to introduce myself to new-to-me poets, and to keep up with what is being valued by the publishing/literary community. Mostly, I read books of poetry for pure pleasure. What I want from a book of poetry is sonic pleasure, intelligent word-play, a noticeable attention to individual word choice and images, and depth. It is rare when I find a complete book of poems that holds me and amazes me from beginning to the end o ...more
Dec 28, 2018 rated it it was ok
Limon has a really approachable, conversational tone, which is not a bad thing at all! But it might not be my thing. And I think that approachable/conversational doesn't necessarily have to correspond to predictable, but at times reading her poems, I felt like I could see what was coming, or at least gather this sort of overall cadence where she wanders through an observation (often about nature) to end on some larger, hopeful insight. Because I could gather this pattern, some of the hopefulness ...more
Sep 28, 2016 rated it really liked it

Obviously, I am still learning the nuances of poetry but boy, when I read something special, it really resonates and clambers around in my skull, like a bat loose in the house. This collection, Bright Dead Things is filled with moments like this and I can not recommend it higher. Please try it for yourself and I am going to seek out her earlier work.
Alexandrea Jarvis
Jan 12, 2021 rated it really liked it
“How masterful and made is hope.”
Ada Limon writes accessible and easily digestible poems, a plus from the start. Among the themes treated here are being a woman, being Mexican, and, in one section, death--specifically the death of her step-mother, which became grist for a set of poems.

Some cool lines I jotted down as I read are as follows:

"I'm like a fence, or a cow, or that word, yonder"

"not just to let the savage grass grow...."

"the clowned-out clouds"

"spring's pushed out every tizzy-tongued flower known to the valley's bosom
Sep 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
wow. I don't think I have ever felt so much reading poetry. If love is loud, it is as loud as the words in these poems. Like the cries of cicadas and the buzzing of bees; like the suckling of sap from the flowers and the trees. If love is a hollow, a chamber for grief, how does it hold? Let me tell you: like the words in these poems.

I am so glad one of my dear friends recommended this to me. I think Ada Limón knows how to love better than many of us. The way she explores her feelings about life
andreea.  (paperrcuts)
It was too approachable and simple, it relied too much on romance and the "I said"/"You said", the "you" being that mysterious guy who helps spin the world around and who is behind every poem's accouchement. Also, I don't like it when books romanticise life in the countryside.

A pretty, if too obvious and clumsy one:

I Remember the Carrots

I haven’t given up on trying to live a good life,
a really good one even, sitting in the kitchen
in Kentucky, imagining how agreeable I’ll be –
the advance of fulfi
Rand Muayed
May 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
“Isn’t it funny? How the cold numbs everything but grief.”
Jun 03, 2021 rated it really liked it
Favourites: Mowing, Downhearted, Relentless, Outside Oklahoma we see Boston, The Great Blue Heron of Dunbar Road, The Wild Divine, We are Surprised, Glow and Someplace like Montana.
TW: death, especially for pt 2 of the book but the writing is so so powerful it was somewhat cathartic for me along with being really heavy. Love Limon's clarity and ability to capture those otherwise indescribable fleeting moments that I look for in all the poetry that I read.
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
May 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The range of this book is amazing. Limon dwells on bereavement, love, friendship, youth, maturing, city life, country life, nature, heritage, family and so much more in poems that never lack for images powerful enough to carry her meditations.
Dec 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This includes some stellar poems including the one that convinced me to buy it, How To Triumph Like A Girl. (link:

These poems are confident and work with admirable chutzpah, but there’s nothing arrogant or condescending about them. Limon has a great voice and you just kind of want to be friends with her. (If only she’d run for president!) The poems are accessible and honest, sometimes funny, sometimes daring, often optimistic. I like that. The setting is
Adriana Martinez Figueroa
Jan 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-own, poetry
i was trying to come up with words to review this book but what came out was the following:

I visualized this book like a valley. You’re writing under a tree that’s turning in autumn. Sometimes there are occasional clouds crossing the valley, casting shadows along the way that remind you of an emotion you saw once one the face of someone you loved. When you run out of words to write down, you unravel the leash you had your horse tied to and climb on. You gallop home, to the person you’re growing
Dec 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
“It’s not sadness, though it may sound like it. I’m thinking about people and trees and how I wish I could be silent more, be more tree than anything else, less clumsy and loud, less crow, more cool white pine, and how it’s hard not to always want something else, not just to let the savage grass grow.”

i have no words i loved this so much
Ace Boggess
Jul 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Sharp, crisp lines. Deeply insightful verse. This book is something to experience as much as read.
Nov 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
I have a difficult time with poetry. I never feel like my soul's in it enough but Ada Limón opened my world. Maybe I'm not all that lost. ...more
Aug 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed the mood of these poems (especially the ones set in Kentucky) - I felt they were really accessible (in the best possible way) with incredible imagery. I also really liked the organization of the sections. Here's a favorite from pg.74-5:

Oh Please, Let it be Lightning

We were crossing the headwaters of
the Susquehanna River in our new car
we didn't quite have the money for
but it was slick and silver and we named it
after the local strop club next to the car wash:
The Spearmint Rhino
Leigh Anne
Sep 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
An amazing collection of poetry that deserves every good critical review it's received.

Good poetry is visceral. It smacks you across the face with an image, or stabs you in the heart with an observation, or blows your mind with a comparison of things you had never before put together. Racism and goats, for example, or being Latinx and prickly pears. By all of which I mean, oh my stars, if you like poetry and don't read this book, you are just plain missing out.

Even if you don't like poetry, you
Feb 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
one of the most stunning and genuine collections of poetry i have ever read. there is something about this book that makes you imagine the author as intensely likable, possibly because every poem has that ring of honesty. i think even if you don't like poetry much, this book could get you to love it.

i really loved the chronology of this--the overlying thread of limon's move to an unfamilar place, and the way she lets the reader in as a kind of companion to her becoming acquainted with her new h
Oct 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
I came to this collection after reading a tweet praising Limón's "The Raincoat" ( I really enjoyed the power and visual narrative in that poem and wanted more so I ordered Bright Dead Things and The Carrying (which has The Raincoat). Bright Dead Things Came to the library first, but much of it wasn't like The Raincoat. I think from reading this collection I realized that I really enjoy poems with clear images/cinematography, very narrative and image heavy pieces. ...more
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Ada Limón is the author of three books of poetry, Lucky Wreck, This Big Fake World, and Sharks in the Rivers. She received her Master of Fine Arts in Poetry from New York University. Limón has received fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, and was one of the judges for the 2013 National Book Award in Poetry. She works as a creative writing i ...more

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14 likes · 1 comments
“I'm learning so many different ways to be quiet. There's how I stand in the lawn, that's one way. There's also how I stand in the field across from the street, that's another way because I'm farther from people and therefore more likely to be alone. There's how I don't answer the phone, and how I sometimes like to lie down on the floor in the kitchen and pretend I'm not home when people knock. There's daytime silent where I stare, and a nighttime silent when I do things. There's shower silent and bath silent and California silent and Kentucky silent and car silent and then there's the silence that comes back, a million times bigger than me, sneaks into my bones and wails and wails and wails until I can't be quiet anymore. That's how this machine works.” 62 likes
“If we could light up the room with pain,
we’d be such a glorious fire.”
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