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The Hurting Kind

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Goodreads Choice Award
Nominee for Best Poetry (2022)
An astonishing collection about interconnectedness—between the human and nonhuman, ancestors and ourselves—from National Book Critics Circle Award winner and National Book Award finalist Ada Limón.

“I have always been too sensitive, a weeper / from a long line of weepers,” writes Limón. “I am the hurting kind.” What does it mean to be the hurting kind? To be sensitive not only to the world’s pain and joys, but to the meanings that bend in the scrim between the natural world and the human world? To divine the relationships between us all? To perceive ourselves in other beings—and to know that those beings are resolutely their own, that they “do not / care to be seen as symbols”?

With Limón’s remarkable ability to trace thought, The Hurting Kind explores those questions—incorporating others’ stories and ways of knowing, making surprising turns, and always reaching a place of startling insight. These poems slip through the seasons, teeming with horses and kingfishers and the gleaming eyes of fish. And they honor parents, stepparents, and grandparents: the sacrifices made, the separate lives lived, the tendernesses extended to a hurting child; the abundance, in retrospect, of having two families.

Along the way, we glimpse loss. There are flashes of the pandemic, ghosts whose presence manifests in unexpected memories and the mysterious behavior of pets left behind. But The Hurting Kind is filled, above all, with connection and the delight of being in the world. “Slippery and waddle thieving my tomatoes still / green in the morning’s shade,” writes Limón of a groundhog in her garden, “she is doing what she can to survive.”

105 pages, Kindle Edition

First published May 10, 2022

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About the author

Ada Limon

21 books1,394 followers
Ada Limón is the author of three books of poetry, Lucky Wreck, This Big Fake World, and Sharks in the Rivers. She received her Master of Fine Arts in Poetry from New York University. Limón has received fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, and was one of the judges for the 2013 National Book Award in Poetry. She works as a creative writing instructor and a freelance writer while splitting her time between Lexington, Kentucky and Sonoma, California (with a great deal of New York in between). Her new book of poems, Bright Dead Things is forthcoming from Milkweed Editions in 2015.

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Profile Image for s.penkevich.
859 reviews5,921 followers
April 25, 2023
What good
is accuracy amidst the perpetual
scattering that unspools the world.

You can’t sum it up. A Life,’ writes poet Ada Limón in her newest collection The Hurting Kind, but don’t worry because she employs all the poetic brilliance to dig away at the ruffage of existence to find the shape of life lived in the past few years. Honing in on themes of grief, intimacy, family and the natural world, this rightfully celebrated poet returns better than ever in a quiet collection that nonetheless screams out for understanding and interconnectedness in the face of ever growing disconnect with the basic elements that unify us as people who should love and foster humanity. Limón dives headfirst into the territory of poetry giants like Mary Oliver for her wry social commentary told through observations of the natural world and Jane Hirshfield for the awareness that nature does not give a single fuck about our narratives and through that we can find peace, and delivers poem after poem—broken into four sections dedicated to each season—that cry out for empathy and communal understanding as a bulwark against the waves of grief that dash upon all our shores. She asks ‘to be made whole / by being not a witness / but witnessed,’ and we are all better for witnessing her words.

The End of Poetry
Enough of osseous and chickadee and sunflower
and snowshoes, maple and seeds, samara and shoot,
enough chiaroscuro, enough of thus and prophecy
and the stoic farmer and faith and our father and tis
of thee, enough of bosom and bud, skin and god
not forgetting and star bodies and frozen birds,
enough of the will to go on and not go on or how
a certain light does a certain thing, enough
of the kneeling and the rising and the looking
inward and the looking up, enough of the gun,
the drama, and the acquaintance’s suicide, the long-lost
letter on the dresser, enough of the longing and
the ego and the obliteration of ego, enough
of the mother and the child and the father and the child
and enough of the pointing to the world, weary
and desperate, enough of the brutal and the border,
enough of can you see me, can you hear me, enough
I am human, enough I am alone and I am desperate,
enough of the animal saving me, enough of the high
water, enough sorrow, enough of the air and its ease,
I am asking you to touch me.

There is a call for intimacy that is likely to resonate with any reader regardless of level of poetic investigation, which is something I’ve always found that Limón excels at. The surface readings of her poems hit with full force while there is a depth to explore for those who seek it, and we all walk away with an enlightenment that resides in our mind for days to come. It works so well because her work feels universal even when embodying a personal experience, from poems about family and missing the moment as a child when her father shaved his beard because ‘even then, / I was too attached to life.’ The attachment to life becomes a beautiful idea across this collection, one that clearly points towards the Covid crisis without ever naming it and finds solace in the peace of wild things around her during this time. It becomes a reminder we are small players in a large world where nature does what it wants independent of our high-stakes political skirmishes and social conflicts. 'I was nothing to that bird, which wasn't / concerned with history's bloody battles,' she writes in Drowning Creek while observing that, to a bird, it has no use or acknowledgement for the dark name. 'There is a solitude in this world / I cannot pierce. I would die for it.' Or in And, Too, the Fox, she observes how the fox has no use for her:
[the fox] never cares how long you watch,
never cares what you need
when you’re watching, never cares
what you do once he is gone.

The idea of nature being unconcerned with our lives feels like a letting go, a freedom to exist and be at peace with our temporality that recalls a lot of what I love about Hirshfield. There is a calmness to much of her poetry that careens through the natural world, taking note of it and letting it wash over us. It reads much like taking note of the world around us during times when many people stayed home during the early days of the pandemic. ‘Why / can’t I just love the flower for being a flower,’ she asks in In the Shadow before asking ‘How many flowers have I yanked to puppet / as if it was easy for the world to make flowers?’ If nature is our peace, our home and our survival, why do we find it so easy to uproot it, to make it a possession. When observing a bee on a flower in Invasive (a poem about a loved one receiving a diagnosis for a terminal illness), she notes they are ‘two things radiating life. I need them both / to go on living.’ Nature takes away, but also heals.

Violence is done and history
records it. Gold ruins us. Men ruin us.

That’s how the world
was made, don’t you know?

Not all is peaceful and calm here, however, and Limón does not shy away from the difficult subjects of death, grief, and the ways people can bring harm upon one another. Or themselves, pleading with her own life in Salvage saying ‘I am sorry. / I am sorry I have been so reckless with your life.’ There is the desire to ‘be the fixer’, to comfort, mend and heal those around her, to return the favor to family members now that they are aging. ‘Show me how you did it, all those years, / took something that needed repair and repaired it.’ As much as there are poems of loneliness and isolation, Limón extolls interconnectedness and the ways we can make the world and our individual lives better through the sharing of grief, the sharing of aid, and the sharing of love.

Love ends. But what if it doesn’t?

In an interview writes that ‘life is so full of suffering that we forget sometimes how hard it is for anyone to live, let alone flourish…“I want to honor all those people in my life who made room for me to live, who allowed me to be porous and tender to the world, who allowed me to be an artist.’ This book is a wonderful tribute to her family and friends that appear in her work, crafted in such a moving way as to remind us all of the power of family, friendship and community. She also plays with fun themes, such as writing a poem in the spirit of the Alejandra Pizarnik or a poem about watching sports, with poems being anywhere from a dozen lines to the multi-page titular poem that delivers a massive emotional weight. Ada Limón returns with a collection just as good as any before and with a wisdom and maturity that soars straight into your heart.


A Good Story
Some days—dishes piled in the sink, books littering the coffee table—
are harder than others. Today, my head is packed with cockroaches,

dizziness and everywhere it hurts. Venom in the jaw, behind the eyes,
between the blades. Still, the dog is snoring on my right, the cat, on my left.

Outside, all those rosebuds are just getting good. I tell a friend,
the body,
is so body. And she nods. I used to like the darkest stories, the bleak

snippets someone would toss out about just how bad it could get.
My stepfather told me a story about when he lived on the streets as a kid,

how he’d, some nights, sleep under the grill at a fast food restaurant until
both he and his buddy got fired. I used to like that story for some reason,

something in me that believed in overcoming. But right now all I want
is a story about human kindness, the way once, when I couldn’t stop

crying because I was fifteen and heartbroken, he came in and made
me eat a small pizza he’d cut up into tiny bites until the tears stopped.

Maybe I was just hungry, I said. And he nodded, holding out the last piece.
January 25, 2023
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“How funny that I called it love and the whole time it was pain.”

The Hurting Kind is a dazzling collection. Ada Limón’s poems are luminous, and I was struck more than once by her ability to espouse a graceful language with such vivid imagery. Limón has proved that I am not only able to appreciate poetry but be swept away by it. Many of these poems are particularly attuned to nature: from the local fauna to the changing seasons. Limón’s sensitivity to her environments results in some really striking imagery, and more than once I felt transported to the places she described. While I found myself lulled by Limón’s lyrical language and the landscapes she was presenting us with, I was also touched by the feelings, thoughts, and experiences that are interpolated in many of her poems. There are poems where Limón includes snippets of family history and snapshots of a more personal nature, as well as reflections on connection, grief, and her heritage. Although I was struck by Limón’s language, she practices an admirable restraint over it, making those instances where she uses metaphors or ventures into the abstract, all the more wondrous. I read this collection in a particularly bad couple of days and I was uplifted and deeply affected by it. Perceptive and melodic Limón's poems are a wonder and I look forward to revisiting them.
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,010 reviews42 followers
October 27, 2022
Audiobook….read by Ada Limon
…. 1 hour and 42 minutes

…Human kindness ….
…Over-coming suffering ….
…Why can’t I just love a flower for being a flower? …..
…Soft silence > a tribute to the dead ….
… “I learned closely to watch the world“ ….
… anticipation > “the future deepening in the heat”.
… “their job is just to be a horse” ….
… “I will never be a mother. That’s it. That’s the whole thought” ….
… nothing is ordinary, even when it’s ordinary” ….
… magnificent birds: alive and or dead …. trees, dead leaves,
…endless wandering ….
… “everything is interesting because you pointed it out ‘as isn’t it interesting?’” …
… “I make dinner and listen to a terrible audiobook while I make dinner” > violence is done and history records it. That’s how it’s done”.
… “something about the body moving freely — just the body alone in movement — the body as rebellion — was it ominous or was it hopeful?”

Beautiful luminous poems connecting the natural world with our human connections…..
Words that create a new language that sound like music ….

Themes include love, loss, grief, death, family, desire, series of warnings, enduring time, reckoning and accepting, animals, dead animals, and undiscovered admiration for the tiniest and large details that surround our every step.

When I woke in the middle of the night — (two-middle-of -the-night ‘wake-up’ moments), I quietly added earplugs to my ears while in bed and listened to Ada Limon read her stunning-creative poetry of love and pain—

I found these poems in the audiobook format soothing— and thought provoking…
Mostly …
the words stimulated a very beautiful experience with prose > with language that created feelings from relief-from suffering— from pain—with a type of warmth that secured my little heart.

5 savoring-the-experience stars.
Profile Image for Carmen.
2,056 reviews1,863 followers
January 26, 2023


In the dew-saturated foot-high blades
of grass, we stand amongst a sea

of foals, mare and foal, mare and foal,
all over the soft hillside there are twos,

small duos ringing harmoniously in the cold,
swallows diving in and out, their fabled

forked tail where the story says the fireball
hit it as it flew to bring fire to humanity.

Our friend the Irishman drives us in the Gator
to sit amongst them. Everywhere doubles

of horses still leaning on each other, still nuzzling
and curious with each new image.


Two female horses, retired mares, separated
by a sliding barn door, nose each other.

Neither of them will get pregnant again,
their job is to just be a horse. Sometimes,

though, they cling to one another, find a friend
and will whine all night for the friend

to be released. Through the gate, the noses
touch, and you can almost hear—

Are you okay? Are you okay?


I will never be a mother.

That’s all. That’s the whole thought.

I could say it returns to me, watching the horses.

Which is true.

But also I could say that it came to me

as the swallows circled us over and over,

something about that myth of their tail,

how generosity is punished by the gods.

But isn’t that going too far? I saw a mare

with her foal, and then many mares

with many foals, and I thought, simply:

I will never be a mother.


One foal is a biter, and you must watch
him as he bares his teeth and goes
for the soft spot. He’s brilliant, leggy,
and comes right at me, as if directed
by some greater gravity, and I stand
firm, and put my hand out first, rub
the long white marking on his forehead,
silence his need for biting with affection.
I love his selfishness, our selfishness,
the two of us testing each other, swallows
all around us. Every now and then, his
teeth come at me once again; he wants
to teach me something, wants to get me
where it hurts.

Still really enjoy Limón's work. I think her poems are quite touching. I also relate to her. Highly recommend this and Bright Dead Things.
Profile Image for Ken.
Author 3 books928 followers
June 2, 2022
My fourth Limón and, as expected, plenty of personal poetry with a strong thread of nature (especially BIRDS) interwoven throughout. I'd say Bright Dead Things remains my favorite of her books, but hard acts are hard to follow and success as she has enjoyed can be an albatross of sorts because brand-name poets no longer enjoy the corrective influence of editors' rejection notes -- something we garden-variety poets know all too well. By that I mean, ALL your stuff is accepted because editors want your NAME in their journals, famous names being a feather (birds again) in one's cap.

Here is a representative poem:

If I Should Fail

The ivy eating the fence line,
each tendril multiplying
by green tendril, if I should
fail the seeds lifted out
and devoured by bristled
marauders, blame only
me and the strip of sun
which bade me come
to lie down snakelike
on my belly, low snake
energy, and be tempted
by the crevices between
the world and not world,
if I should fail know I
stared long into fractures
and it seemed to me
a mighty system of gaps
one could slither into
and I was made whole
in that knowledge of
a sleek nothingness.

A nice little existential echo, that. And, as always with Limón, plenty of poems to hang your hat on until you're ready to go outside.
Profile Image for Edita.
1,304 reviews394 followers
February 5, 2023
And now the world is gone. No more Buenos Aires or
No tango, no samba. No more pisco sours sweet
and sticky
and piercing the head’s stubborn brick.

Mistral writes: We don't need all the things that used to give
us pleasure.

Still some dense desire, to sneak into the cities of
the world

again, a window, to sit at Café Tortoni and refuse an
because I can. Now we endure.

Endure time, this envenomed veil of extremes—loss and
grief and reckoning.

Mistral writes: I killed a woman in me: one I did not love.
But I do not want to kill
that longing woman in me. I love her and I want
her to go on longing

until it drives her mad, that longing, until her desire is

like a blazing flower, a tree shaking off
the torrents of rain as if it is simply making music.
Profile Image for Alan.
420 reviews182 followers
May 30, 2023
Third collection by Limon now. More nature. More birds. More trees. Perhaps a more sombre mood now, hinted at by a line here and there. I believe Limon is dealing with the personal tragedy of being unable to conceive. She doesn’t focus on this fact often (in fact, it’s probably only explicitly mentioned a couple of times throughout the collection), but the mood is low and recovering. She is trying her best to cultivate gratitude, see meaning in the day to day. Despite her best efforts, however, there are moments of sharp pain throughout the day, often symbolized by a dead animal. It’s at once sad and inspiring to see her dealing with this hit.

I enjoyed these poems:
-Foaling Season
-Joint Custody
-Calling Things What They Are

Here is a portion of Foaling Season:

I will never be a mother.

That’s all. That’s the whole thought.

I could say it returns to me, watching the horses.

Which is true.

But also I could say that it came to me

as the swallows circled us over and over,

something about that myth of their tail,

how generosity is punished by the gods.

But isn’t that going too far? I saw a mare

with her foal, and then many mares

with many foals, and I thought, simply:

I will never be a mother.
Profile Image for Atri .
188 reviews116 followers
January 20, 2023
What is it to be seen in the right way?
As who you are? A flash of color,
a blur in the crowd,
something spectacular,
but untouchable.


...the sky darkening in the way that makes me
wish we were wandering right now around
New York City somewhere or at the Governor
Bradford and not wandering at all, or just talking or
not talking or being happy or not unhappy,
and this is my secret work, to be worthy
of you both and this infinite discourse
where everything is interesting because you
point it out and say, Isn't that interesting?
And how mostly we say, Remember
that time,
and we will nod because we do
remember that time. Except for the few times
we've forgotten, like that one time when H
was trying to remind us of something and when
we asked her what, she said. I don't know,
but you were there and I was there.
And we were.


In order for someone to be "good" do
they have to have
seen the full-tilt world?
Must they believe what
we believe?

You can't sum it up. A life.

I'm wearing
my heart on my leaves. My heart on my

Love ends. But what if it doesn't?


And aren't we all alone in
the end?
You put your head for a moment
against my chest.

Then, all I could hear was our
breathing. We were
both human and animal-hearted,
bound to the blades, bound to outrun them.


at the tree for a long time now, I am
of the righteousness I had before the
of time. I miss who I was. I miss who we
all were,
before we were this: half-alive to the
brightening sky,
half-dead already. I place my hand on
the unscarred
bark that is cool and unsullied, and
because I cannot
apologize to the tree, to my own self I
say, I am sorry.
I am sorry I have been so reckless with
your life.
Profile Image for Timothy Urgest.
506 reviews264 followers
March 29, 2023

The wild pansy shoves its persistent face beneath the hackberry's shade, true plum and gold,

with the alternate names: Johnny-jump-up,
heartsease, or my favorite, love-in-idleness.

I bow closer to the new face. I am always
superimposing a face on flowers, I call the violet moon vinca

the choir, and there are surely eyes in the bird-eye speedwell, and mouths on the linearleaf snapdragon.

It is what we do in order to care for things, make them ourselves, our elders, our beloveds, our unborn.

But perhaps that is a lazy kind of love. Why
can't I just love the flower for being a flower?

How many flowers have I yanked to puppet
as if it was easy for the world to make flowers?
Profile Image for CaseyTheCanadianLesbrarian.
1,134 reviews1,397 followers
July 13, 2022
What a lovely coincidence that yesterday, the day I started writing this review, was when Ada Limón was announced as the US's newest Poet Laureate. What wonderful news! Anyway, here are my thoughts on her most recent book.

It's a soothing collection of poetry that is most often occupied with the natural world, but in the end has a lot to say about humanity. This is my first book by Limón, and I expect many have made the comparison to Mary Oliver before. I can't help but make it too, as these poems made me feel right with the world – particularly the human portion of it – by way of nature in a similar way to Oliver's work. Both writers are queer women as well, for what that's worth. Limón, of course though, is her own poet. 

Limón writes about the relief you feel at the natural world's disinterest in you. It felt apt that I left this book outside in my backyard for an afternoon and came back to find that a bird had pooped on it. That bird didn't care about my book of poetry! Limón reminds us to look outside our perspective, to decentre ourselves for a while, to revel in our own unimportance.

"I am always superimposing / a face on flowers … / It is what we do in order to care for things, make them / ourselves… But perhaps it is a lazy kind of love. Why / can't I just love the flower for being a flower? / How many flowers have I yanked to puppet / as if it were easy for the world to make flowers."

There's a lot to learn from nature: how play is work, how death is ordinary, how there is wildness in everyone, how aging happens  to us all, how desire is not something to rid yourself of: 

"I do not want to kill / that longing woman in me. I love her and I want her to go on longing / until it drives her mad, that longing, until her desire is something / like a blazing flower, a tree shaking off"

The collection is divided by season, as Limón moves through flora and fauna of the natural world and its intersections with the human drama about which it is so emphatically neutral. She seamlessly integrates the two, like in "Calling Things What They Are," where she ponders 

"To think there was a time I thought birds were kind of boring. … Before, the only thing I was interested in was love, how it grips you, how it terrifies you, how it annihilates you and resuscitates you"

But just as she's learnt the names of different birds, she's learnt that her youthful obsession with love was in reality one with her own suffering and pain. 

Nature in Limón's poems is wonder-ful. One of my favourite poems, in the "fall" section, was " It's The Season I Often Mistake." Limón writes: 

"And today, just when I / could not stand myself any longer, a group of field sparrows…flew up into / the bare branches of the hackberry / and I almost collapsed: leaves / reattaching themselves to the tree / like a strong spell for reversal. What / else did I expect? What good / is accuracy amidst the perpetual / scattering that unspools the world"

YES. That's how that poem makes me feel: YES. Actually, that's how all the poems made me feel, whether they were sad, hopeful, elegiac, or happy. YES 
Profile Image for Pau.
178 reviews162 followers
January 14, 2022
received an ARC courtesy of milkweed books and this was SUCH a lovely read, brought me back to the first ever poetry collection i read, which happened to be bright dead things...things coming full circle i love poetry & i love ada limón
Profile Image for Helena.
159 reviews
May 31, 2022
I deleted like 17 versions of this review cause I can’t figure out exactly what to say to get across what these poems did for me. Some of them gave much prettier ways to think about things I knew about myself and some of them gave me much kinder and gentler ways to think about things I feel and some of them were just nice and of course some of them I didn’t understand at all. And what else could you really ask for from a collection of poems?

Favorites: Give Me This, Sanctuary, A Good Story, Stillwater Cove, Blowing on the Wheel, It’s the Season I Often Mistake, Runaway Child, Lover, The Hurting Kind, Obedience, Salvage
Profile Image for Kayla.
82 reviews2 followers
May 18, 2022
Maybe it's corny of me, but I burst into tears after reading the line "Love ends. But what if it doesn't?" after going through the journey of the collection's title poem. I love Ada Limón always, forever, and will never be able to sum it up.
Profile Image for Ebony (EKG).
86 reviews336 followers
May 8, 2023
“And it seems, all at once, a vulgar life. Or not
vulgar, but not simple, either”

poems on nostalgia, love, loss, and the human condition.
56 reviews
July 12, 2022
I would like to preface this with, I have deep love in my heart for Ada Limón and I review this so meticulously so that I can get an understanding of the type of writer I am via understanding what I’m not drawn to in poetry and why.

Anyways, I’m not going to lie this one didn’t do it for me, at least not right now in this present moment…i have a feeling I’ll come back around to this and love it at some point.

This collection felt like one that was focused on form. I’m the biggest NOT fan of whatever the two line poetry template is, it’s hard for me to get invested when there’s line breaks that don’t have any meaning other than “I’ve committed to writing this poem in sets of two lines”.

Something i kept thinking over and over while reading this is “I think she had writers block and resorted to the same 3 exercises to get her brain going”…I’m sorry it just felt like the same 3 poems over and over and over. The aforementioned couplet-ish poem, a narrative poem about her family (that either didn’t offer much I hadn’t read about already or was completely focused on the narrative of the story rather than the poetry of it), and a poem about nature…her specialty of course but something about them kept falling flat. While there is usually profound meaning delicately explicated in these scenes, these poems felt like she was just telling us about the scene and expected us to do the leg work of finding the poetry in it. Which I’m sure many people can do but as someone who is not very connected to nature, especially Kentucky nature, I felt like I was reading field journals and that’s it.

There was also some uncharacteristically cliche lines scattered consistently throughout that were jarring enough to take me out of the mood because…it just all seemed so, unlike her.

Tbh there were only a few dog-eared pages when usually it’s 80% of the book.

Maybe it’s my fault, i can barely relate to poems about family, i can never relate if those poems are about grandparents, I’m not a nature gal and maybe I’m doing that thing where I expect (demand) pain from an artist, rejecting anything that’s less than a gut wrenching hurt as “not good enough”.

But she said it best herself….“Why am i not allowed delight?”

Of course “The End of Poetry” changed the course of my life. I’ve had that memorized for months, repeat it to myself daily. Those words held me together when everything was falling apart so I’m grateful to this collection for birthing that. There aren’t words to describe what that poem does for me, how it holds my whole life in its hands.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Leah Rachel von Essen.
1,204 reviews160 followers
May 11, 2022
My favorite poet, Ada Limón, is out with a new, stunning collection: The Hurting Kind. In this collection, divided by the seasons, Limón writes poems suffused with nostalgia, longing, and grief. In times of pandemic and isolation, she writes about what it means to be the hurting kind of person—the kind who easily weeps, who is soft, vulnerable, sensitive to the pain she sees, whether it be in people or in a dead baby bird in her yard.

She writes of trying to nurture seeds into flowers, of exclaiming when new birds rush into the trees like leaves, of seeing the neighbors get a tree cut down. She writes of steadfast love and what she once thought love would mean to her—she writes of trying to run away as a child, of being in an emotionally manipulative relationship that she thought could save her, of her partner and the kind of love that sticks, that holds. She writes of her family and of grief, of burial, of deaths small and large.

In one poem, her and her brother in their curiosity crack open a chicken egg to find a nearly formed chick, unborn in its shell. They bury it, she cries, and she wonders if he too would cry, if he were alone and not a boy in summer heat. In other poems, she thinks back to loving fireworks which she now dislikes, to her affection for a foal who died, and wonders if she will find a strong steel that will allow her to be vulnerable again. And in still others, she writes of her capacity for joyful wonder—of getting high and lying beneath the cherry trees, of shouting as new birds fly up to her feeder, of a cat's reluctant trust and a parent sharing something about themselves she never knew.

The Hurting Kind is a collection of tender poems about being a certain kind of person. And they all hit me hard, because I am the hurting kind, and because Limón's poems are like sea water, refreshing, cold, salty, teeming with life. This was one of my most anticipated books of the year, and it didn't disappoint.

CW suicidal ideation, emotional abuse/manipulation, grief/death.
Profile Image for Lauren .
1,717 reviews2,312 followers
August 30, 2022
Day 27 of The Sealey Challenge - a new personal favorite.

Second reading of Limón's poetry and this was a moving experience, much more than the earlier work I read by her.
Observational and introspective in tone, themes here include many nature-based poems, memories of childhood, death of loved ones. This one came at the right time and deeply resonated, even bringing me to tears a few times. Outstanding.
Profile Image for Ivan Zhao.
77 reviews10 followers
January 25, 2023
read for reboot book club

the hurting kind is a delightful collection of poetry that meanders through the four seasons. in winter, limon is cold, wistful. in spring, she is thinking of rebirth and fertility. and in the summer, she is hurt, dreaming of rapture and licking her scars.

i have not read a ton of limon but this collection of poems is fantastic. there is so much to glean from the way she works through words, the questions that she poses for us. what is love? what is nature's relationship to love? what is our relationship with nature? so many questions, very few answers

I will personally say that the range in the collection was not as interesting to me / Ada has a distinct style that while fantastic, I don't personally LOVE all the time. girly is obsessed with the word Once, using specific words for flora and fauna (which go off but like.. why am i searching up so many words).

One of the main other themes through this collection is the notion of the witness. what does it mean to bear witness and how does observation change the nature of existence? there is something about schrodingers cat here but I can't tap it
Profile Image for Julie.
Author 6 books1,770 followers
March 23, 2023
Gracious, lovely, poignant and timeless. This is a collection I will return to time and again, something I feel all too rarely about contemporary poetry. Ada Limón writes from the inside out, using a tangential memory or observation that is deeply personal to construct a conversation with the reader that is revelatory and universal. Nature is most often her fulcrum, chance encounters with fauna and tender acknowledgments of flora launch a keening consciousness of the frailty of the earth, and gratitude for it. Composed during the bewildering first year or so of the pandemic, The Hurting Kind reflects our mutual sense of grief for the world and the loss of our collective innocence. Stunning.


Suppose it’s easy to slip
into another’s green skin,
bury yourself in leaves

and wait for a breaking,
a breaking open, a breaking
out. I have, before, been

tricked into believing
I could be both an I
and the world. The great eye

of the world is both gaze
and gloss. To be swallowed
by being seen. A dream.

To be made whole
by being not a witness,
but witnessed.
Profile Image for Ellie.
1,475 reviews372 followers
June 6, 2022
Limon sees the natural world clearly and is able to translate what she sees beautifully--she has learned the power of naming as well as describing.

And then she connects this external world to feelings and relationships in a way that is revelatory, illuminating, surprising, and satisfying.
Profile Image for Lyra.
127 reviews4 followers
August 17, 2022

Didn’t catch the rhythm. Didn’t feel the meaning or mood beat. Probably just me though.
Profile Image for talia ♡.
936 reviews191 followers
October 2, 2022
I am human, enough I am alone and I am desperate,
enough of the animal saving me, enough of the high
water, enough sorrow, enough of the air and its ease,
I am asking you to touch me.


Profile Image for Dan.
1,106 reviews52 followers
January 5, 2023
The Hurting Kind by Ada Limon

This is the latest collection of some fifty poems from the Poet Laureate of the United States, Ada Limon, and these are the individual poems that I most liked:

1. Drowning Creek
2. Foaling Season
3. Stillwater Cove
4. Banished Wonders
5. Heart on Fire
6. My Father's Mustache
7. The Hurting Kind
8. The End of Poetry

Limon is refreshing and so adept at visualizing and contextualizing a sense of place in her poetry.

4.5 stars
Profile Image for emily.
91 reviews24 followers
April 11, 2023
My cat is at the animal hospital right now so I picked up a sad book of poetry because of course. This collection is so devastating and so clarifying. Each poem feels like a sieve through murky water, picking up all the dirt and the grime and the yuckiness so we can look at it, and also at what lies beyond it. I am smiling and nodding and crying and underlining and holding my breath, letting out a big sigh. I feel as though Ada has taken my hand in hers and said yes, there is hurt, and yes, there is hope. And today I really needed that.

“Before my grandfather died, I asked him what sort
of horse he had growing up. He said,

Just a horse. My horse, with such a tenderness it
rubbed the bones in my ribs all wrong.

I have always been too sensitive, a weeper
from a long line of weepers.

I am the hurting kind. I keep searching for proof.”
Profile Image for Jim Coughenour.
Author 4 books178 followers
May 31, 2022
When I think of reading “poetry” I realize I mean two different kinds of experience. One is based on the pleasure of the poet’s craft: rhyme, rhythm, meter, how a poet achieves form and honors the constraints of whatever form they’ve adopted, sometimes pushing against them, sometimes writing in such a transparent voice it takes a moment to see the form at all. A couple weeks ago I was sharing a poem by Wendy Cope.



The worst row we two ever had concerned
The sonnets — Shakespeare’s. I expressed the view
I’d held for years: that no-one could have turned
Those lines unless he was in love. ‘Not true.
You’ll find that all the academics say
You’re wrong.’ That pompous tone — the one that you
Use when you’ll brook no argument. ‘And they
Know better than mere poets?’ ‘Yes, they do.’
It happened in the car. I nearly stopped
And asked you to get out. Now I concede
That both of us were partly right. We dropped
The sulks before too long. But we’re agreed
It was our worst dispute. The one we had
About a steak? That wasn’t quite as bad.


Wendy is so crafty, her reference is Shakespeare’s sonnets, that it took me a moment after finishing the poem to notice that it was itself of course a sonnet.

Poems like these, mostly more intensely earnest, are poems I love to study, puzzles and epiphanies in words. I read them again and again. Thom Gunn for example combines both lightness and grief, playfulness and Renaissance craft in his verses. I will read such poems as long as I can, with pleasure.

The other experience of poetry (and yes I know I’m just making up these categories as I go) is focused more on expression, a feeling or insight traced into lines. These poems can take any shape, whatever shape they need. In Ada Limon’s new collection there are prose poems, poems divided into numbered sections, poems set out in couplets. Most are just a page-long section of right-aligned text. The form matters, but it’s not so much the point. The point is listening (I read poems out loud to myself) to find out not only where it’s going but what happens along the way.

What happened along the way of The Hurting Kind was moment after moment of observation, insight, appreciation, rueful realization. The usual stuff but high quality, refined into exact language. At the end of some poems you want to be her friend. I never felt like Limon was trying to be clever (don’t get me wrong, I love clever, Kay Ryan). A poetic presence of essential honesty — and because the spirit speaking these words is so gracious, the honesty is healing. Not the hurting kind.
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