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About this poet

Aracelis Girmay was born and raised in Santa Ana, California. She received a BA from Connecticut College in 1999 and went on to earn an MFA in poetry from New York University.

She is the author of The Black Maria (BOA Editions, 2016), Kingdom Animalia (BOA Editions, 2011), winner of the Isabella Poetry Award and a finalist for the National Books Critics Circle Award, and Teeth (Curbstone Press, 2007). In a statement for the New American Poets series, she says of her work, “I hope the poems are songs sometimes. I want the poems to ask questions. To engage other people. To promote compassion.”

Girmay was awarded a Whiting Award in 2015, and the judges’ citation notes that “her project seems to be our deep and ongoing subjectivity, our vulnerability to history, to one another, to desire, and to the belief in something large and lasting that we might belong to. There’s empathy, play, and fearlessness here, and both formal and emotional range.”

Girmay is also the author of a collage-based picture book, changing, changing (George Braziller, 2005). She has received fellowships from Cave Canem, Civitella Ranieri, and the National Endowment for the Arts. She teaches and lives in New York City.


Selected Bibliography
The Black Maria (BOA Editions, 2016)
Kingdom Animalia (BOA Editions, 2011)
Teeth (Curbstone Press, 2007)

luam, new york

The flies, six
in a metallic pile, identical
green, identical
bristle & gaud.

To see so clearly
the science
in their suits.

And yesterday, the woman
asking, Are you twins?

My sister & I, whose
mothers are different,
whose years are.

From a distance,
are we, species by species,
identical? Each other.
Our needs & moving. Dear Fly,

my Other Life out
splintering, involved
in the evolution:

we are like siblings,
you & I, separated
by many years, & rooms.

Aracelis Girmay, "luam, new york" from The Black Maria. Copyright © 2016 by Aracelis Girmay. Used by permission of BOA Editions, Ltd., www.boaeditions.org.

Aracelis Girmay, "luam, new york" from The Black Maria. Copyright © 2016 by Aracelis Girmay. Used by permission of BOA Editions, Ltd., www.boaeditions.org.

Aracelis Girmay

Aracelis Girmay

Aracelis Girmay was born and raised in Santa Ana, California. She received a BA from Connecticut College in 1999 and went on to earn an MFA in poetry from New York University.

by this poet

poem

The beauty of one sister
who loved them so
she smuggled the woodlice
into her pockets & then into
the house, after a day’s work
of digging in the yard,
& after the older ones of us
had fed her & washed,
she carried them into
the bed with her, to mother

2
poem
                                        October

             where three we-horses mark ground,
turn snake our necks inside the guayla circle. My aranci,

             —etan, childfox
                                    out my fourth mouth, you drank
                          
                      then
2
poem
When I get the call about my brother,
I'm on a stopped train leaving town
& the news packs into me—freight—
though it's him on the other end
now, saying finefine—

Forfeit my eyes, I want to turn away
from the hair on the floor of his house
& how it got there Monday,
but my one heart falls
like a