Noted Poet/Bluegrass Transplant to Make Lexington Debut at Writers Conference

by Whitney Hale

Ada LimonNationally renowned poet Ada Limón, one of this year's judges of the National Book Award in poetry, will present at this year's Kentucky Women Writers Conference scheduled for Sept. 20-22. Limón's free public reading will mark her debut in Lexington. She will also present a workshop on poetry and essays for conference registrants.

Limón is the author of three books of poetry, "Lucky Wreck," "This Big Fake World" and "Sharks in the Rivers." She received her master's degree in poetry from New York University, where she studied with former U.S. Poet Laureate Philip Levine among others. Limón has received fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, and was awarded the Chicago Literary Award for Poetry. She is currently working on a book of essays, a novel and a new collection of poems. She works as a freelance writer and splits her time between Lexington and Sonoma, California.

Like many Kentucky residents, horses brought the celebrated poet to her new Lexington home in April of 2011, through her boyfriend, a horse racing reporter. The slower pace of life in the Bluegrass has benefitted Limón.

"I think, as a writer, I am always influenced by place. Whether it’s a deep connection to my hometown of Sonoma, Calif., or the 12 wild years I spent in New York City, there’s always a weaving in of location in my work. The Bluegrass has become a new well of inspiration for me: a sense of something shining and unfamiliar, strange loud bugs swarming in the warm air, fireflies lit up like field-bling in the pasture across the street, fascinating horse racing obsessions, the proclivity toward bourbon and breweries, all of this is stimulating my creative work on some level," Limón said.

Currently Limón is finishing three works. Her fourth book of poetry, which is primarily comprised of love poems, is close to completion and has several poems influenced by Kentucky. A new novel by the writer explores the life of a woman whose marriage falls apart in her mid-30s and leads to her moving back home with her parents.

The third and final project the writer is working on is a collection of essays on her early days in New York City and her interesting viewpoint on such topics as pop culture, horse racing, poetry, love, death, dogs and the writing life. "While they are at times lyrical, they are very different from my poetry," said Limón. "I like working in different genres, or rather, I like not always to have to choose a specific form, but to let the subject dictate its preferred way of coming into the world. The lyric essay and poetry share so much and yet the end result is always so drastically different."

As part of the Kentucky Women Writers Conference, Limón will present a workshop in poetry and the lyric essay from 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Sept. 20 and 21, at the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning. The workshop is available to conference registrants only. Limón will also give a poetry reading with fellow writers George Ella Lyon and Sarah Freligh. "Stars with Accents" will be begin 7 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 22, at the Carnegie Center. The readings are free and open to the public.

The Kentucky Women Writers Conference is an annual event known for bringing notable women writers to Lexington for readings, writing workshops and discussions. A program housed in the University of Kentucky College of Arts and Sciences, the conference is made possible in part by continued community partnerships, including its primary venue, the Carnegie Center.

To register or to find more information on the conference and events featuring poet Ada  Limón, visit online at

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