How to Triumph Like a Girl


Every time I give an author talk, I open with a poem I love. The problem with some poems—or rather the problem with me—is that some poems hit my heart so hard I end up crying while reciting them, and not because they are sad but because they have reached that deep a place. 

Ada Limón’s poem, “How to Triumph Like a Girl” (from Bright Dead Things), is one of those poems. 

I first read Bright Dead Things in early 2017, and when my memoir came out a few months later and I started giving author talks, I couldn’t open with her poem though I toted her book around just in case I worked up the nerve to include “How to Triumph Like a Girl.”

Always best to be prepared, right?

Finally, while giving a talk to a book club of women who I knew would be forgiving, I declared I was going to recite her poem and I was going to cry. 


Sure, they said, go right ahead. We don’t mind.

I pulled out her book, opened it to the first page, and recited this poem I love. For the first time, I didn’t choke up and cry. I have no idea why, but I will give Ada all the credit: perhaps this was my small act of triumph.

April is National Poetry Month, and each week of the month I am going to post a poem or two that I have discovered in the last year.

My friend, Robert McCready, will be reciting them on his YouTube Channel: Magic City Poetry. Listen to Robert recite Ada's poem here.

Thank you, Ada, for letting me kick off the month with this beauty. 

Hope all of you hang on for the ride!

P.S. Ada has a new book coming out later this summer, The Carrying. I await.

P.P.S. I just read this poem while standing at my desk, and I totally cried.

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