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Ada Limón, U.S. Poet Laureate, to speak Thursday at Saint Mary’s

| Monday, September 18, 2023

Courtesy/Saint Mary's College
U.S. Poet Laureate Ada Limon will visit Saint Mary’s Thursday as part of the Francis A. McAnaney Humanities Lecture Series.

On Thursday, Saint Mary’s will welcome U.S. Poet Laureate Ada Limón to O’Laughlin Auditorium. Limón has authored six books of poetry, including her latest work, “The Hurting Kind.”

Limón comes to the College as part of the newly minted Francis A. McAnaney Humanities Lecture series, which was formally known as the Christian Culture Lecture.

Humanistic studies professor and event organizer Laura Williamson said the purpose of the lecture is to bring the best names in literature, philosophy and theology to Saint Mary’s to talk to students.

“It’s so we can appreciate the role that humanities disciplines and humanities thinking play in the world and really why it matters,” Williamson said.

According to Williamson, Limón fits into this lecture series for several reasons.

“One of the main reasons is because she’s fabulous,” Williamson said. “She is also a Poet Laureate of the United States, and that is a huge honorific that’s bestowed by the Library of Congress.”

The mission of the Poet Laureate is to advocate for why poetry matters — which aligns with the College’s mission as a whole, according to Williamson.

“We’ve had wonderful success with writers on campus,” Williamson said. “We’ve had a previous Poet Laureate on campus, Tracy K. Smith. She sold out the auditorium. Writers often do a great job engaging our student body.”

Williamson said she expects the audience to be wowed.

“She is an exceptional speaker, not simply because of her intellect and her creativity, but because she’s personable. She makes poetry both beautiful and accessible,” Williamson said. “She writes about ancestry, her relationship to relatives, friendship, desire, heartbreak. She write about illness and death and loss and the deep desire to feel human connection.”

Paige Parker is a research assistant in the Humanistic Studies Department under Professor Williamson. Over the summer, Parker’s research work focused on Limón’s writing and themes.

“Over the summer, I was really interested in post-colonial studies and the concept of identity in her works,” Parker said. “Specifically, I applied the themes of post-colonialism and identity to how a woman’s role as a Poet Laureate can uphold democracy.”

Parker said that more recently she’s been interested in focusing on the the eco-spirituality in her works, specifically “The Hurting Kind.” Parker added that she is excited to see Limón speak not only as a scholar researching her but also as a student.

“I think it’s important for her to bring her poetry to Saint Mary’s because we are so focused on uplifting the voices of women,” Parker said. “I think Limón can really speak to what it means to be a woman in today’s day and age. She will speak to us about the way that certain members of our society see us and the way that capitalism has an influence on womanhood and our relationship with our body.”

Parker said she thinks Limón will help Saint Mary’s students bring a reckoning to themselves, feel more confident and uplift their voices as women.

“It’s really important for a women’s institution to have someone to look up to like that,” Parker said.

After studying Limón’s poetry for so long, Parker said she is still eager to hear her speak this Thursday.

“Lately I’ve been really drawn to how she aligns her speaker in each of her poems with the natural environment and that kind of spiritual relationship,” Parker said. “I would love to hear her talk a little more about that.”

After Limón’s lecture, there will be a brief question and answer session hosted by Williamson. Afterward, Limón will do a book signing where masks are required.

Tickets for the lecture are on sale at the Saint Mary’s College Box Office in the lobby of O’Laughlin Auditorium.

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