Poet Laureate to speak at Tennessee Tech

COOKEVILLE – Center Stage presents Ada Limón, the 24th Poet Laureate of the U.S., for a public author reading in the Backdoor Playhouse on the campus of Tennessee Tech University, on Tuesday, Sept. 20 at 7 p.m.  

Limón was named as the 24th Poet Laureate Consultant in Poet, also known as the U.S. Poet Laureate in June of 2022 by Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. The poet laureate serves as an ambassador for the form.

Limón is the author of six books of poetry, including “The Carrying,” which won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry. Her book “Bright Dead Things” was nominated for the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. 

“Ada Limón’s poetry is intensely personal in that she is sharing her experience of the world with readers. She’s a keen observer of the natural world, of people and our interior lives,” Erin Hoover, assistant professor of English and campus host for Limón, said. “I can’t remember who said this about her, but I, too, have the impression when reading Limón’s poems that she’s addressing me. Her poems are like letters I didn’t know I needed to read until I opened them.”   

Her work has been recently underwritten by a Guggenheim Fellowship. She grew up in Sonoma, California and currently lives in Lexington, Kentucky where she writes, teaches remotely and hosts the critically-acclaimed poetry podcast, “The Slowdown.” Her new book of poetry, “The Hurting Kind,” is out now from Milkweed Editions. 

“I’ve followed Ada Limón’s poetry for years, and it was exciting for me to learn last fall that she would be hosting The Slowdown, a podcast in which she highlights (and appreciates) a new poem each day,” Hoover said. “I admire her approach to doing the podcast, where she enacts her own process of responding to each poem as a reader. Each of us can do this, if we want to take the time.”  

Hoover said through her students, she has learned there is more enthusiasm for poetry than one might think on Tech’s campus. Besides the students who study creative writing, she knows some who write poetry as a hobby that they’ve mostly kept secret, and others that are just starting to write.  

“I wanted to invite someone that I knew could speak to the range of curiosity I find here. Then, when Limón was named Poet Laureate, I realized that her visit would have additional weight,” Hoover said. “Ada Limón is our nation’s most prominent advocate for poetry, and it will be exciting to see her do this work at Tech.” 

Limón will also conduct a craft talk, “Making Something Out of Nothing: Finding Helpful Ways to Conjure a Poem,” on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 11 a.m. – noon, in Henderson Hall room 204B. 

“Rather than individual schools or departments running unique series on a smaller budget, Center Stage series reaches out to all of us on campus and pools funding so that some ‘larger’ guests are able to come,” Hoover said. “I enjoy seeing the variety of visitors who come to campus, and thanks to the support the series has among our community, Center Stage reliably delivers a world of creativity to our door.”   

Admission to Center Stage events is free, unless otherwise noted. The events are paid for by student fees and open to the public with priority seating given to students. Many guests provide additional educational opportunities for students through workshops or master classes during their residencies. Email or call Liz Kassera, center stage coordinator, for more information at lkassera@tentech.edu or (931) 372-3637.

The Backdoor Playhouse is located on the 1st floor of the Jere Whitson Building. 

The address is 805 Quadrangle, Cookeville.

Michelle Price is the former managing editor of the Upper Cumberland Business Journal and can be reached via email. Send an email.

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