Reading poetry is a skill and one that I have not used in a while. I used to read more in my teens and twenties and have no valid reason for waiting so long to pick up a book of poetry again. That’s why I appreciated that a prompt on one of my reading challenges was a collection of poetry published since 2014. This was a great excuse to seek out new poets and new collections and I enjoyed my experience with The Black Maria, even if I found myself confused by the format.
The Black Maria is poetry collection that tells the story of Eritrean refugees, struggling to find a new home through the lens of modern day racism. Identity, history, and culture are also explored and examined.
I am going to admit that I did not fully understand some of the poems nor the structure that Aracelus Girmay used to share her words. It took me a few poems to realize who was who, even with the addition of a glossary at the beginning of the book. The overall structure was confusing with the addition of people’s names I didn’t know and the dual meaning of some of the words. Even with my confusion, the poems were beautiful and I found myself highlighting many lines to reread. My favorite of the book was “Hands For Pleasure, Hands For Mending” but all were wonderful to read. I would definitely read more by Girmay and look forward to it.
Our dead whose words you cannot know
& so you are protected from the dense contagion
Of that sadness, so take them then (our messages and theirs)
What would it cost you?
Author: Aracelis Girmay
Rating: 3.5 Stars