Chicana poet Ada Limón made headlines last year when she was named the newest U.S. Poet Laureate by the Library of Congress, one of the highest literary honors for poets, becoming the first Chicana and Latina in history to do so. During her three-year tenure, she has already accomplished a great deal in furthering her mission to promote a love for reading and writing poetry nationwide, as well as her own work. She recently announced that her latest project is in collaboration with NASA, who will engrave her poem “In Praise of Mystery: A Poem for Europa,” on their Europa Clipper spacecraft that will travel 1.8 billion miles in space. Scheduled to launch in October from Cape Canaveral, Florida, the spacecraft is currently being built in California and will be headed to Jupiter to explore its icy moon Europa and conduct research on its ocean, crust, and atmosphere. It is projected to enter Jupiter’s rotation in 2030, NBC News reported.
“Writing this poem was one of the greatest honors of my life, but also one of the most difficult tasks I’ve ever been assigned,” Limón said in a statement. “Eventually, what made the poem come together was realizing that in pointing toward other planets, stars and moons, we are also recognizing the enormous gift that is our planet Earth. To point outward is also to point inward.”
The powerful poem includes the following lines: “We, too, are made of wonders, of great/and ordinary loves, of small invisible worlds,/of a need to call out through the dark.”
Originally from Sonoma, California, Limón, who is of Mexican American descent, is the author of seven collections of poetry, many of which have been award finalists or winners. She has been serving as the U.S. Poet Laureate since 2022 after succeeding Joy Hargo, the first Native American poet to receive the honor. In addition to her other historic firsts, Limón recently became the first poet laureate to have her position renewed for an additional two years and will now serve until April 2025 instead of the original end date of September 2023.
“I am beyond honored to serve for another two years as the Poet Laureate of the United States,” Limón said according to a press release from the Library of Congress. “Everywhere I have traveled during my first term, both nationally and internationally, I’ve been reminded that poetry brings people together. I am looking forward to continuing the important work of celebrating what poetry can do.”
As part of her collaboration with NASA, the public is invited to add their names to the spacecraft with Limón’s poem. Each name will be engraved on a microchip and must be received by midnight on December 31, 2023 to be included. And to kick off her second term later this year, she will also partner with the National Park Service and the Poetry Society of America to perform poems in several U.S. national parks to bring together her love for poetry and nature. We look forward to seeing what else Limón will bring to her position as U.S. Poet Laureate and bring visibility to the Latinx community.