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SCOUT calls THE BLACK MARIA a 'remarkable force'

In a new review of Aracelis Girmay's the black maria, SCOUT says that Girmay's writing is "driven by a conceptual confidence that allows the entire book to function as a long, piecemeal 'elelegy.'"

The review offers analyses of both sections in the book. "The first section, titled 'elelegy'—at once part of 'the English elegiac tradition and the ulalatory traditions of grieving and joy in cultures of North and East Africa'—is a suite of poems stricken with mourning for the 20,000 people that 'have died at sea making the journey from North Africa to Europe in the past two decades.' These poems imagine themselves into an empathy so complete, distinctions between people get completely erased.

"The title poem—in the book’s second section—begins as a meditation on the racism renowned astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson endured as 'a boy who / (it is important / to mention here his skin / is brown) prepares his telescope, / the weights & rods, / to better see the moon.' . . . The poem references 'the Missouri coroner’s news, / the Ohio coroner’s news,' alluding to the police killings of Michael Brown and Tamir Rice, and the rest of that second section similarly tasks itself with memorializing contemporary racial violence against Black people in America."

The review concludes: "the black maria emerges from a spirit of elegy, moral vision, and protest, and places itself in traditions that include June Jordan, Paul Celan, Joy Harjo, and James Baldwin. Unique to this collection is Girmay’s signature willingness to risk narrative sentiment and lyric authenticity, which she inhabits with remarkable force, willing her readers to be remade in her visionary healing."

Click here to read the full SCOUT review.

the black maria is available now at the BOA Bookstore.


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