Last week I went to the Ada Limon reading hosted by the MFA program. I have been a fan of Ada’s work for awhile after reading her poem American Pharaoh . I love the work she does in intermingling her apathetic attitude towards horse racing with the attitude she has on the speaker’s partner in this piece, and how that shifts as the speaker sees the horse actually race. A lot of her poetry has a distinctly American feel, and I suppose the recurrence of animals and nature bring me back to my hometown in some ways.
I really love poetry and am doing my capstone project primarily in poetic words but it’s really more of a hybrid writing. Ada does a lot of prosaic poems and so I derived inspiration from these as well as the more traditional poetic forms she works with. But I think her talk and thus likely the other talks that are coming up that Zell hosts are awesome opportunities to glean more from how writers actually work for a living if they are freelance. Ada talked about how she wrote her first two books while also writing and managing work for the magazine Travel and Leisure. For me it was inspiring to see someone who believed in being her own patron as I never really want to go strike out as a writer with no financial security because I don’t want to rely on others. It’s made me see how finding the right communities once I move to NYC will determine how much writing I actually keep up doing. The other aspect of this that I found interesting was less about Ada and more about the people around her, the MFA students. I’m intrigued by looking at MFA programs in the future and so getting a sense of the type of people who you might share this community with is interesting. I think sometimes the MFA programs can feel a bit gate-keepy in terms of who can write and talk about writing and so it has made me think more critically about whether the path is for me.
Overall, an awesome night. Ada Limon signed a book for me and wrote a personalized message after I said her poems always give me such hope. I get so nervous when I meet poets so it was cool to have her be so generous with her time AND take a photo with me. Excuse the shitty lighting and awkward posing, there was about a thousand people waiting in line behind us.