Aracelis Girmay's new book the black maria received high praise from such places as Library Journal, Booklist, and The Chicago Review of Books in the weeks leading up to its April release.
The Library Journal starred review calls the new book "beautiful, brilliant, and palpably angry; an important book all readers can appreciate."
Booklist praises Girmay’s ability to write about anything from jellyfish to Venetian iconology: "Lunar maria, dark, basaltic plains on the moon’s surface, take their name from the Latin word for seas, identified as such by mistaken astronomers. This fascinating confusion fuels Girmay’s third poetry collection, which co-opts the sailing-obsessed tales of Odysseus, adopts African slave Abram Gannibal, ancestor of renowned Russian poet Alexander Pushkin, and testifies on behalf of the wrongfully accused Black Panther George Jackson, among many others. . . . astoundingly effective, [this] bright, ambitious work deserves several rereadings. A self-described ‘inheritor of Eritrean, Puerto Rican, and African American traditions,’ Girmay is a dazzling, wildly dynamic poet."
The Chicago Review of Books talks about the many layers and themes that are addressed in the black maria, and delves into the stories told through the poetry: "Aracelis Girmay’s new poetry collection, the black maria—a haunting, blistering, vital examination of the African diaspora from 15th-century slave ships to Neil deGrasse Tyson—is a book of memories and seas . . . One cannot help but be reminded of Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric . . . maybe this ‘John Henryism’ is the memory Girmay brings out as she traverses the African continent, from the Congo under the Belgians to present-day Asmara, and back in time to Luam and Abram when black children were being abducted and sold as gifts. More than any other question, the black maria forces us to ask ourselves if anything has truly changed since then."
the black maria is now available at the BOA Bookstore.