The Hurting Kind

The Hurting Kind

by Ada Limón
The Hurting Kind

The Hurting Kind

by Ada Limón


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Listen to Ada Limón in conversation about The Hurting Kind on Poured Over: The B&N Podcast.


Notes From Your Bookseller

The Hurting Kind by Ada Limón is our favorite type of poetry book. Each word, sentence and phrase takes us by the hand and walks us through a beautiful and visual landscape. We stick with each poem for multiple readings, not out of confusion but of refusal to let it go. Yes, it’s that good ... page after page.

An astonishing collection about interconnectedness—between the human and nonhuman, ancestors and ourselves—from National Book Critics Circle Award winner, National Book Award finalist and U.S. Poet Laureate 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.”

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781639550494
Publisher: Milkweed Editions
Publication date: 05/10/2022
Pages: 128
Sales rank: 13,741
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

About The Author
Ada Limón is the author of The Hurting Kind, as well as five other collections of poems. These include, most recently, The Carrying, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award and was named a finalist for the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award, and Bright Dead Things, which was named a finalist for the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Kingsley Tufts Award. Limón is a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, and her work has appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times, and American Poetry Review, among others. She is the former host of American Public Media’s weekday poetry podcast The Slowdown. Born and raised in California, she now lives in Lexington, Kentucky.

Read an Excerpt

Give Me This


I thought it was the neighbor’s cat back

to clean the clock of the fledgling robins low

in their nest stuck in the dense hedge by the house

but what came was much stranger, a liquidity

moving all muscle and bristle. A groundhog

slippery and waddle thieving my tomatoes still

green in the morning’s shade. I watched her

munch and stand on her haunches taking such

pleasure in the watery bites. Why am I not allowed

delight? A stranger writes to request my thoughts

on suffering. Barbed wire pulled out of the mouth,

as if demanding that I kneel to the trap of coiled

spikes used in warfare and fencing. Instead,

I watch the groundhog closer and a sound escapes

me, a small spasm of joy I did not imagine

when I woke. She is a funny creature and earnest,

and she is doing what she can to survive.



What’s the thin break

inescapable, a sudden thud

on the porch, a phone

vibrating with panic on the night

stand? Bury the broken thinking

in the backyard with the herbs. One

last time, I attempt to snuff out

the fig buttercup, the lesser celandine,

invasive and spreading down

the drainage ditch I call a creek

for a minor pleasure. I can

do nothing. I take the soil in

my clean fingers and to say

I weep is untrue, weep is too

musical a word. I heave

into the soil. You cannot die.

I just came to this life

again, alive in my silent way.

Last night I dreamt I could

only save one person by saying

their name and the exact

time and date. I choose you.

I am trying to kill the fig buttercup

the way I’m supposed to according

to the government website,

but right now there’s a bee on it.

Yellow on yellow, two things

radiating life. I need them both

to go on living.

Drowning Creek


Past the strip malls and the power plants,

out of the holler, past Gun Bottom Road

and Brassfield and before Red Lick Creek,

there’s a stream called Drowning Creek where

I saw the prettiest bird I’d seen all year,

the Belted Kingfisher, crested in its Aegean

blue plumage perched not on a high nag

but on a transmission wire, eyeing the creek

for crayfish, tadpoles, and minnows. We were

driving fast back home and already our minds

were pulled taut like a high black wire latched

to a utility pole. I wanted to stop, stop the car

to take a closer look at the solitary stocky water

bird with its blue crown and its blue chest

and its uncommonness. But already we were

a blur and miles beyond the flying fisher

by the time I had realized what I’d witnessed.

People were nothing to that bird, hovering over

the creek. I was nothing to that bird that wasn’t

concerned with history’s bloody battles or why

this creek was called Drowning Creek, a name

I love though it gives me shivers, because

it sounds like an order, a place where one

goes to drown. The bird doesn’t call the creek

that name. The bird doesn’t call it anything.

I’m almost certain, though I am certain

of nothing. There is a solitude in this world

I cannot pierce. I would die for it.

Table of Contents

1. Spring


Give Me This


Swear On It

Drowning Creek


A Good Story

In the Shadow


And Too, the Fox

Stranger Things in the Thicket


The First Lesson


Foaling Season

Not the Saddest Thing in the World

Stillwater Cove



2. Summer


It Begins With the Trees

Banished Wonders

Where the Circles Overlap

When It Comes Down To It

The Magnificent Frigatebird

Blowing on the Wheel

Jar of Scorpions

The First Fish

Joint Custody 

On Skyline and Tar

Cyrus & the Snakes

Only the Faintest Blue

Calling Things What They Are

“I Have Wanted Clarity in Light of My Lack of Light”

Open Water


The Mountain Lion



3. Fall



It’s the Season I Often Mistake

How We See Each Other



Heart on Fire

Power Lines


My Father’s Mustache 

Runaway Child


If I Should Fail




4. Winter



The Hurting Kind

Against Nostalgia




The Unspoken


What is Handed Down

Too Close

The End of Poetry


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