Poetically Speaking: How to Triumph Like a Girl by Ada Limon

“How to Triumph Like a Girl” by Ada Limón

I like the lady horses best,
how they make it all look easy,
like running 40 miles per hour
is as fun as taking a nap, or grass.
I like their lady horse swagger,
after winning. Ears up, girls, ears up!
But mainly, let’s be honest, I like
that they’re ladies. As if this big
dangerous animal is also a part of me,
that somewhere inside the delicate
skin of my body, there pumps
an 8-pound female horse heart,
giant with power, heavy with blood.
Don’t you want to believe it?
Don’t you want to lift my shirt and see
the huge beating genius machine
that thinks, no, it knows,
it’s going to come in first.


Ada Limón is a widely known poet whose work straddles the line between being known both in writerly circles (thanks to her numerous accolades and awards) and more broadly (thanks to social media).

You can find and buy her books on Bookshop.org

Honestly, I can’t believe I haven’t featured anything by Ada Limón before now for Poetically Speaking. It feels like an egregious oversight considering how many of her poems cross my path via social media and just browsing for poems online (as one does). So as I was looking for poems to highlight this year during National Poetry Month, I knew I wanted to feature something by Limón. But which poem to choose? I hadn’t read “How to Triumph Like a Girl” before and when I first saw it online, I admit I wasn’t sure about it. But like all good poetry, this one got under my skin. I kept thinking about it. And that, I knew, was reason enough to share it.

I love the way a poem can build and the way that where a poem starts isn’t always the same as where it ends. What begins as broad observations narrows and sharpens by the end. What at first seems like an offhand conversation turns into something else as Limón ably shifts the narrative.

I’m always a sucker for a good last line and this poem is no exception. When writing booktalks for work one of my friends advises that the last line should echo–it should have resonance and stay with the listener. That’s what comes to mind for me when I read the final couplet here. I especially like the certainty and sense of inevitability as you read “it’s going to come in first” that makes it clear there was never any other outcome worth considering.

Check back every Friday in April for a new Poetically Speaking post. Until then, you can also browse older posts (and guest posts) for more poetry.

April 2022 Reading Recap

Miss Print's Reading Recap

Planned to Read:

  • We Deserve Monuments by Jas Hammonds
  • Lark and Kasim Start a Revolution by Kacen Callender
  • Seoulmates by Susan Lee
  • Drizzle, Dreams, and Other Lovestruck Things by Maya Prasad
  • Henry Hamlet’s Heart by Rhiannon Wilde
  • A Disaster in Three Acts by Kelsey Rodkey
  • The Charmed List by Julie Abe


  1. Sugar Town Queens by Malla Nunn
  2. Skin of the Sea by Natasha Bowen
  3. Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim
  4. The Ballad of Never After by Stephanie Garber
  5. Clark and Division by Naomi Hirahara
  6. A Forgery of Roses by Jessica S. Olson
  7. Only a Monster by Vanessa Len
  8. My Fine Fellow by Jennieke Cohen
  9. We Deserve Monuments by Jas Hammonds
  10. Seoulmates by Susan Lee
  11. Lark and Kasim Start a Revolution by Kacen Callender
  12. One True Loves by Elise Bryant
  13. Alma Presses Play by Tina Cane

You can also see what I read last month.