Sharks in the rivers

“Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden appointed Ada Limón as the 24th Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress on July 12, 2022 and reappointed her for a historic two-year second term on April 24, 2023. Limón’s second term will begin in September 2023 and conclude in April 2025."

In this collection of poems there are several themes that Limón’s poetry encompasses. Among them are recurring metaphors of water and aquatic life. There are long poems, one with multiple stanzas, and there are short poems, and for the most part, each of them requires multiple readings. Every rereading brings richness and appreciation for the poet's thoughts, emotions and imagination.

The title of the book comes from an eponymous poem that uses sharks as a metaphor for a young girl’s fears of the unknown, and validates what many of us already know. People are in more danger from other people than they are from other forms of life. A friend shares:

 “a recent National Geographic article that says,

Sharks bite fewer people each year than

New Yorkers do, according to Health Department records."


“Homesick” harkens back to the young Limón being “banned to the backyard for running in the house” so that “I and a particular tree became fast friends in the green sequined summer.”

“Drowning in Paradise” picks up the shark/aquatic theme in a different way, quite possibly because this is the voice of a woman who has gotten beyond her early fears and beckons to aquatic life:  “Come here shark. Come here barracuda. Love the sweet artifacts of this body. Carry me in the world-class rattle of a wave.”

“The Weather Reported” refers to a time in the past, a relationship with someone the poet depended on for love and identity, but now: “Santiago, I am my own weather … my own river … a better bird for flying.”

Other books written by Ada Limón can be found here.