the black maria

the black maria

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Author: Aracelis Girmay 

Publisher: BOA Editions (2016)

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. 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.

"This year, I’ve sought out and found solace in language, both poetry and prose. Aracelis Girmay’s the black maria has left images still planted deep within me."

—Ada Limón

the black maria is rich with countless descriptions of the sea, and Girmay manages to make each seeing new, nimbly crafting each poem to possess and plunge the reader into its glimmering pages, offering us an ocean full of voices, full of historical remnants . . . Not only does she reach a hand into the heart-root and depths of the reader, she fills the page with urgent breath, line after line, a singing that asks you to listen, to lie down, be washed clean in its waiting ocean. How I look forward to returning for the breath between these pages, again and again.”

–Safiya Sinclair

A New Yorker Best Book of 2016

Whiting Award Winner 2015

Winner of Poetry magazine’s 2016 Bess Hokin Prize