Compose: Is there a quality, a state, a moment without which you find a poem incomplete? Or the reverse—what must one of your poems possess or achieve for you to consider it “successful”?
Ada Limón: For the most part, I feel finished with a poem when both the language and the narrative are working in harmony to form surprises, energy, and openings. What I mean by this is when I feel like the poem is working beyond me. It’s no longer something I’ve made, but has its own will in the world. If I can read it and say, “Oh, I didn’t know that!” then I know it’s complete. I’m also very obsessed with sound, so the sounds have to feel as if there is no other choice. In terms of energy, when a poem begins to vibrate on its own, I can tell. It just builds, like a song, or a painting, you can feel it moving on its own. It’s my favorite magic.