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March 17, 2009

Smith to Host Poet Aracelis Girmay

NORTHAMPTON, Mass.—Smith College will present a reading by new poet Aracelis Girmay at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 31, in Stoddard Hall Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.

A writer of fiction and nonfiction in addition to being a poet, Girmay received her Master of Fine Arts degree from New York University and works as a writer in public schools with the Community-Word Project and Teachers & Writers Collaborative. She is a Cave Canem Fellow and has published poems in “Ploughshares,” “Callaloo” and the “Indiana Review,” among other journals, citing among her influences Frieda Kahlo, Martín Espada, Toni Morrison, Minnie Ripperton, Walt Whitman, Ralph Ellison, Pablo Neruda and Gwendolyn Brooks.

Described as “the real deal” by the co-editor of “Latino Boom,” Girmay is a powerful and inventive poet, writer and educator who is not afraid to take on any subject, including rape and genocide, and who brings to her poems not only gravity and passion but a sustaining voice of hope. Introducing Girmay’s debut collection, “Teeth,” poet Martín Espada writes that her work is “so strong, so brave, so lyrical, so fiery, so joyful, that the usual superlatives fail.” 

Girmay weaves her multicultural heritage (Eritrean, Puerto Rican and African American) into a distinctive political voice. From the African folk tale to the open-air markets of Puerto Rico, Girmay recovers the images of her mother countries, merging the traditions—culinary, spiritual, storytelling—into a poetry of resistance and survival.  Drawing on stories from Iraq, Darfur and Nicaragua, she takes a stance of “solidarity with people whose history changes, or is forcibly changed by war, poverty and the damaging actions or apathy of the world’s leaders,” writes poet Rigoberto Gonzalez in a review of “Teeth.”

Girmay’s reading will be followed by a book sale and signing. For further information, call Michaela Cahillane in the Poetry Center office at (413) 585-4891 or Ellen Doré Watson, Poetry Center director, at (413) 585-3368.

For disability access information or to request accommodations, call (413) 585-2407. To request a sign language interpreter specifically, call (413) 585-2071 (voice or TTY) or e-mail All requests must be made at least 10 days prior to the event.

Office of College Relations
Smith College
Garrison Hall
Northampton, Massachusetts 01063

Marti Hobbes
News Assistant
T (413) 585-2190
F (413) 585-2174

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