By Edwin B. Smith
University of Mississippi
U.S. Poet Laureate Ada Limón is set to deliver this year’s Baine Lecture at the University of Mississippi.
Limón will discuss “What Poetry Can Do” beginning at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday (Feb. 7) in Fulton Chapel. Free and open to the public, the event is co-sponsored by the Department of English and the Center for the Study of Southern Culture.
The idea to bring a poet to speak at this year’s lecture was the result of a conversation between Aimee Nezhukumatathil, professor of English and creative writing, and Caroline Wigginton, chair and associate professor of English and event co-coordinator.
“We brainstormed a dream list of ones who write beautiful, powerful poetry and who are dynamic speakers,” Wigginton said. “Ms. Limón was at the top of our list. We were thrilled when she accepted our invitation and even more so when, just a few weeks later, she was named U.S. poet laureate.”
Limón’s presentation is sure to inspire, inform and entertain, said Kathryn McKee, director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture.
“Ada Limón previously spoke at the Southern Foodways Alliance’s fall 2020 symposium, but because the event was virtual that year due to COVID, we were unable to host her on our campus,” she said. “We’re looking especially forward to having her in Oxford.”
The Baine lecturers and writers are chosen on the basis of energetic and engaged scholarship and creative work, innovative approaches and dynamic presentation styles. The goal of the lectures is to showcase innovative research and writing.
“As a poet originally from California and who has lived for some years in Kentucky, Ms. Limón, through her writing, showcases the thriving diversity and marvelous brilliance of Southern literatures and arts,” Wigginton said.
The Baine Lecture Series was created by a generous donation to the English department from Edith Turley Baine. A native of Greenville, Bain graduated from Ole Miss with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education. She taught English in Mississippi and Arkansas, and also was a tree farmer, before her death in 2012.
The nation’s 24th poet laureate, Limón is the author of six books of poetry, including “The Carrying” (Milkweed Editions, 2018), which won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry. Her book “Bright Dead Things” (Little, Brown Book Group, 2019) was nominated for the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. She recently published “The Hurting Kind” (Milwaukee Editions, 2022).
She was the host of the acclaimed poetry podcast, “The Slowdown,” and her work has been supported most recently by a Guggenheim Fellowship.