• Elina Arbo

BRIGHT DEAD THINGS: BOOK REVIEW

There is no doubt that everything around us is crazy. Every day. Every moment. Especially now.


Ada Limón encapsulates the frenzy of life perfectly in Bright Dead Things: Poems. Her words reflect the beautiful mess that we may find ourselves in. Our worlds exist in absolute chaos. Limón also highlights moments of tranquility, like sipping a warm cup of tea after the sun rises. She provides us with many reasons to embrace the moment we’re living in.


Run-on sentences, words clashing together, imagery zooming past you. There is so much happening in just a few lines. “The Good Wave” is a mixture of childhood, baseball, and bedtime— told in just a few seconds. Our experiences are to be savored, no matter how insignificant they may seem. Life goes by quickly, and Limón shows us that these instances, no matter how unimportant they seem, matter. They are messy, chaotic. Her expressions run past us swiftly: “flower mouth, pollen burn, wing sweat”. In “Long Ago and the Cow Comes Back” it feels like you’re in the car with her, passing by various streets, immersed in the red undertones of the world. We are stuck in this fast-paced rhythm with no way out. Everything is disorganized.


Our lives are crazy, to say the least, but that’s what makes our lives worth living.


The little moments that we never cherish are reignited in our minds. Limón has us reminiscing over our bodega trips. Over car rides, even. Limón’s observations and perceptions are so uniquely put but her distinctiveness doesn’t hinder her relatability. For instance, when she describes leaning over a cracked, white window ledge in pink fuzzy slippers in her poem “How Far Away We Are”. While her details are personal and specific, we can all recall a favorite moment of comfort in our own lives. “The Quiet Machine” is yet another offering of stillness. It is an immense takeaway that, even among the chaos, we can find our grounding.


What I also adore in Limón’s writing is the push and pull between the urban and beyond, away from the cities into nature-infested areas. There is a strong attraction to the noise and craziness that is New York City, but Montana also offers a new, more tranquil perspective on life. The city is savory and nature is relinquishing. It brings us closer to ourselves, and it allows us to grow an appreciation for the world around us. Another aspect of what makes our lives so special is the fact that we are never bound to one singular environment. Humans have mobility and the capability to transform the places around us.


The title of the book itself speaks to the many contradictions life offers. “Noisiness of Sleep” is just another example of life’s complexities. For Guggenheim Fellow Ada Limón, these expressions are nothing but natural. We are traveling a million miles an hour, our lives are being projected from space to space, from moment to moment. In Bright Dead Things: Poems, Ada Limón works her magic to center ourselves in this chaotic, beautiful world.


©2020 by ~quarantine content~.