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Kingdom Animalia (American Poets Continuum) Paperback – September 20, 2011
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There is a saying in Spanish, Cada cabeza es un mundo,’ which translates every mind is a universe unto itself.’ And Girmay’s world, universe, opens new ways of seeing the simplest things and giving them voice. Everything contains some clue of another self, body or kindred spirit. Like an archaeologist, she digs deeply finding herself in every living thing, even in the inanimate. Her magic is poetry at its best.”National Book Critics Circle
A cunning consideration of mortality, humanity, and the responsibility of the voice that bears witnesses...” -Los Angeles Review
Vibrant, so much of everything I want to see everywhere: color and joy and snap.” -Holly Wendt, blogger
Aracelis Girmay anouced as winner of the 2015 Whiting Award: "[Girmay’s] project seems to be our deep and ongoing subjectivity, our vulnerability to history, to one another, to desire, and to the belief in something large and lasting that we might belong to. There’s empathy, play, and fearlessness here, and both formal and emotional range. The beauty of these poems is always married to a deep, implacable pang. Their consolation is always rooted in the unifying force of remembered loss.” —Whiting Award Judges
About the Author
A Cave Canem Fellow, she has received grants from the Jerome Foundation and the Watson Foundation. She is this year’s recipient of the Isabella Gardner Poetry Award and was recently awarded a literature fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Girmay is an Acentos Foundation board member and a contributing editor for The Massachusetts Review. She also writes, occasionally, for ELEM magazine, a lifestyle and arts magazine dedicated to the concerns and interests of the Eritrean community (in Eritrea and the diaspora).
For the past nine years, Girmay has taught community writing workshops in her native California and in New York. She received her MFA from NYU in 2003 and is now on the faculty of both Drew University’s low-residency Poetry MFA program and Hampshire College’s School of Interdisciplinary Arts.
Girmay grew up in Santa Ana, California and currently lives in New York.
Top Customer Reviews
We get to watch Girmay listen and give as the poems and narratives bloom from the page. In "Abuelo, Mi Muerto" she writes, "Abuelo, if the pigeons can wear / the same face in every city, / the same red feet, singing / the same songs & so on, / can't you come back, Abuelo? / Tell me which are the graves / I should visit & clean. Which river / I should bring my flowers to. / Which of the miracles / fills your marigold chest? / Which is the joke you loved the most? / What is the name of the desert / I should thank? Come back / in a body I can see from the window / of this crowded city train. / Board the train. Sit / beside me for a while & tell me things. / Do not let me mistake you / for a shadow or a gull. / & if I start to pass you on the street, / Abuelo, shout my name, shout / it, please. Tug my shirt or hair. / Make me turn. Just a moment. / Send me home with a message / my mother will believe." This motor threads the entire collection. She has gifted us a new translation for the language of the world. Of the lines of history that have birthed us. You leave these pages knowing metaphor has always been reality, and that memory is its own lifetime.
Be careful. It's not enough to read Kingdom Animalia. Your body will make a community of it, and ache to place this book into all the hands you love most.
A stunning work of love and loss and forgotten beauty.