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The Black Maria

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Lucy & Phyllis is a Certified B Corporation that meets the highest standards of social and eveironmental impact.

Praise for Aracelis Girmay:

"[Girmay's] every loss—she calls them estrangements—is a yearning for connection across time and place; her every fragment is a bulwark against ruin." —O, The Oprah Magazine

Taking its name from the moon's dark plains, misidentified as seas by early astronomers, the black maria investigates African diasporic histories, the consequences of racism within American culture, and the question of human identity. Central to this project is a desire to recognize the lives of Eritrean refugees who have been made invisible by years of immigration crisis, refugee status, exile, and resulting statelessness. The recipient of a 2015 Whiting Award for Poetry, Girmay's newest collection elegizes and celebrates life, while wrestling with the humanistic notion of seeing beyond: seeing violence, seeing grace, and seeing each other better.

"to the sea"

great storage house, history on which we rode, we touched the brief pulse of your fluttering pages, spelled with salt & life,
your rage, your indifference your gentleness washing our feet,
all of you going on whether or not we live,
to you we bring our carnations yellow & pink, how they float like bright sentences atop your memory's dark hair


Aracelis Girmay is the author of three poetry collections, the black maria; Kingdom Animalia, which won the Isabella Gardner Award and was a finalist for the NBCC Award; and Teeth. The recipient of a 2015 Whiting Award, she has received grants and fellowships from the Jerome, Cave Canem, and Watson foundations, as well as Civitella Ranieri and the NEA. She currently teaches at Hampshire College's School for Interdisciplinary Arts and in Drew University's low residency MFA program. Originally from Santa Ana, California, she splits her time between New York and Amherst, Massachusetts.

ISBN-13: 9781942683025

Publisher: BOA Editions, Ltd.

Publication Date: 04-12-2016

Pages: 120

Product Dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.50(d)

Aracelis Girmay is the winner of a 2015 Whiting Award for Poetry. She is the author of three poetry collections: the black maria (BOA Editions, 2016); Kingdom Animalia (BOA Editions, 2011), which won the Isabella Gardner Poetry Award and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; and Teeth (Curbstone, 2007). She is also the author/illustrator of the collage-based picture book changing, changing (Braziller, 2005). Most recently, Girmay's poetry and essays have been published in Granta, Black Renaissance Noire, and PEN America, among other places. She has received grants and fellowships from the Jerome, Cave Canem, and Watson foundations, as well as Civitella Ranieri and the NEA. She is on the faculty of Hampshire College’s School for Interdisciplinary Arts and Drew University’s low residency M.F.A. program. Originally from Santa Ana, California, she splits her time between New York and Amherst, Massachusetts.

Table of Contents

Elelegy

Elelegy 11

Prayer & letter to the dead 14

To the sea (any) 26

"& when it happens" 27

"you are going now" 28

"hands for pleasure, hands for mending" 29

To the sea (any) 30

"black, full of language" 31

"Odysseus, his lungs full" 32

"Claim, I, to be the poet, making talk" 33

"The febrile & opal" 34

To the sea near lampedusa 35

Luam to the dead 36

Luam/ asa luam 37

Luam, who says to the dead 39

"Inside the sea, there is more" 40

"The black-eyed woman" 41

"To be near sea is to gleam" 42

Luam in the sea, to the survivors 43

Luam remembers massawa 44

Luam to her sibling 45

Luam cleaning house 47

The luams speak of god 48

Luam, new york 49

Luam, asmara 50

Luam & the flies, umbertide, asmara, new york 51

"Look! In other poems you are" 53

Luam mending clothes 54

Luam, new york 55

Luam, monterchi, italy 57

To the sea 58

"Why not, in addition, tell" 59

"strange earth, strange" 61

To the sea 62

To the sea 64

"praise the water, now" 65

"I love the azucenas, so bring them to you" 66

The luams 67

On poetry & history 69

The black maria

The Black Maria 73

Third Estrangement, in Memory of Jonathan Ferrell 75

The Woodlice, Fourth Estrangement 77

The Fig Eaters, Fifth Estrangement 78

First Estrangement 80

Moon for Aisha 81

Cooley High, Fifth Estrangement 83

The Beauty of the World, Tenth Estrangement 86

Second Estrangement 88

Third Estrangement 89

The Black Maria 90

Fourth Estrangement, with a Petition for the Reunion of Jonathan & George Jackson 102

Notes 108

Acknowledgments 112

About the Author 115

Colophon 120