The Black Maria

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.

Favorite Quote:

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

Published: 2016

Rating:  3.5 Stars


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