On campus

24th U.S. Poet Laureate Performs at Backdoor Playhouse

Ada Limón was named poet laureate of the U.S. in July 2022, replacing the previous laureate Joy Hard. Photo by Luke Hayslette.

On Tuesday, Sept. 20, the current United States poet laureate, Ada Limón, performed a poetry reading at the Backdoor Playhouse. 

The event drew a crowd of an estimated 155 people to the theater where Lemón recited 13 poems from her newest book, “The Hurting Kind,” with subjects ranging from love, family, friendships and birds.

Limón also hosted a poetry workshop during dead hour on Tuesday in Henderson Hall, where she shared her insight on the nature of poetry writing. 

“The deep intention and the looking is a way of loving the world. It’s also a way of unraveling it. Sometimes, it’s a way in so you can kinda figure out what is going on with me.”

Lemón explains, “Everytime we say we’re writing about something, we are always writing about something else. There is always two snakes in a poem.”

The event is part of the free-to-attend Center Stage Series, which seeks to promote fine arts appreciation and to connect students to diverse world cultures. The event was hosted by the Backdoor Playhouse. The Women’s Center provided staff.

Limón was named the 24th poet laureate in July of this year, following the release of “The Hurting Kind.” In addition to writing and publishing books of poetry, Lemón hosts a podcast dedicated to exploring the depths of the world through poetry. Her podcast is titled, “The Slowdown,” originally hosted by the 22nd poet laureate Tracy K. Smith, who held the position from 2017 to 2019.


“I want to focus on how useful poetry can be in our daily lives. Poetry is one of the few art forms that has breath built right into it,” Lemón states. 

Born in Sonoma, California in 1976, Limón attended the University of Washington where she studied theater. She went on to receive her MFA from New York University before beginning a career working in magazines such as Martha Stewart Living and GQ.  

Lemón took over as poet laureate of the U.S. from Joy Harjo, who had held the position since 2019. Poet laureates are appointed by the Library of Congress, and their role is to bring attention and promote a greater appreciation for the reading and writing of poetry. The U.S. has only had a national laureate since 1937, but before that, many states had state poet laureates dating back to 1915.