Aracelis Girmay's the black maria and Kathryn Nuernberger's The End of Pink are included in On the Seawall's semi-annual feature "Nine Poets Recommend New & Recent Titles," for which highly acclaimed poets write briefly on some of their favorite recently published titles.
Poet Safiya Sinclair recommends the black maria, calling the collection “astounding” and “incredible.” She says: “Girmay’s poetry entrances with breathless beauty as she carefully traces the sea’s dark history from 1702 to 2015, addressing the anguish of the African diaspora in a long cycle of poems called elelegy . . . The book’s titular second section conjoins this past violence with the present, heavy with the memory of the European ships that heaved “with the weight of black grief, black/ flesh, black people, across the sea,” and by imagining language as a realm of estrangement and misseeing, as much as the sea is a realm of loss, Girmay subtly explores how this estrangement births even more violence against black bodies today . . . What makes Girmay a truly remarkable poet is her ability to pay tribute to our loss without lingering on the wound, choosing to transform it instead through her unmistakable way of seeing the world. Here grief is still buoyed by joy, by elelegy. 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.”
Poet Catherine Pierce recommends The End of Pink, calling the collection “remarkable” and a “powerhouse of a book.” She says: “Nuernberger’s poems engage with difficult, sometimes brutal questions of mortality, identity, sex, and loss with an even-handedness that is at once comforting and unnerving. . . . There is legitimate joy in these difficult poems, a joy that’s all the more potent for how it lives alongside longing and anguish. The emotional heft of The End of Pink is balanced by sharp humor . . . In many of the poems in The End of Pink, humor ices a cake made of knives. . . . The list of things-to-admire about this book goes on and on: the keen self-awareness[,] the way contemporary culture and history are expertly interwoven with the personal [,] the way these poems are willing, thankfully, to make big claims and use big images[,] the deep, abiding empathy throughout. . . . In this extraordinary book, the body is both torment and miracle, and loss is something nearly palpable, something we might tuck behind the ear ‘where we keep what we cherish.’ Each one of these arresting poems reads like a reckoning—fierce, and beautifully forthright.”
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the black maria and The End of Pink are available at the BOA Bookstore. Purchase one or both titles by December 18 and save 25% off your entire order with promo code SHOPBOA!