Friday, August 10, 2007

Meeting Aracelis Girmay

Friday, August 10, 2007

It's been a long time since I've been excited by a book of poetry. The first time I opened Aracelis Girmay's Teeth, I knew I was in the presence of a real poet. Right away I called Sandy Taylor, her publisher at Curbstone, and asked to book her on Here on Earth, but he did one better. He arranged for a reading for her at Rainbow Bookstore in Madison so she could be right here in our studios for our program last Tuesday.

In "Arroz Poetica," the first poem in Teeth, she writes...

You name, I will have noticed
on a list collected bya Iraqi census of the dead,
because your name is the name of my own brother
because my students are 12, because I remember
when my sisters were 12. & I will not
have ever seen your eyes, & you wll not
have ever seen my eyes
or the eyes of the ones who dropped the missiles.
or the eyes of the ones who ordered the missiles,
& the missiles haveno eyes.

She is Etritrean on her father's side, Puerto Rican and African-American on her mother's side, and I ask myself, is that what it takes to be able to feel for the Iraqi civilians who are dying every day in this war? Do you have to be a "woman of color" who writes only in red? What can we say about a country whose people are forbidden to mourn even their own dead? Who are not even allowed to see their coffins, let alone their eyes? It's our Refusal to Mourn that may be the greatest hole in the heart of this country the greatest blow to our humanity. Thank God for poets like Aracelis, young as she is (29!) who have the power to unstop our throats and loosen the words and the tears that should be falling from our eyes, even as they fall from their eyes, every day of this Endless War.

3 comments: said...

List afternoon I just happened to catch the last half an hour of the conversation that you had Ben Merens. I was so excited to hear that you have a book that is coming out and I will be eager to get it. The very first WPR radio show that I ever heard was back in college. I had the privilege to listen to one of your poetry circles of the air and that hooked me to WPR for life. Since that time my life has took a ton of twists and turns and has brought me to where I am now. A single, divorced mother of two young girls. With where I'm at in my life I am unable to go travel the world. I need to have both feet firmly planted on the ground right here in Wisconsin. What I love about Here on Earth is that you bring the world to me. I don't feel quite so isolated after one of your shows. I feel like I'm a part of the larger community. While I know that I won't be traveling around the world any time soon I am quite certain that at some point I will. Until that time I'm thankful that you can bring the world and it's many stories to my ears as I drive my commute for work every day. Thank You! said...

Oh and make sure you let us know when your book is scheduled to come out and where it will be available. I will want to order it in advance.

Jean Feraca, Here On Earth: Radio Without Borders said...

Dear Bibliomommy,

Thanks you so much for your comments on the show. I was once a single Mom stuck in an isolated farmhouse in Kentucky, and I feel your pain! As much as public radio programming means to you, your listening means just that much to me - a lifeline. You just gave me a huge jangle. Thanks so much!