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Posted August 11, 2007
An Excellent Collection of Politically and Personally Charged Poems
Aracelis Girmay¿s well-received debut book of poems, TEETH 'Curbstone Press, ISBN: 978-1-931896-36-8, $13.00', deals with a wide range of topics, from war and exploitation to love, peace, and healing. Martín Espada penned the introduction to the book, describing Girmay as ¿deeply involved with the world, and her poetry articulates a passion for that world in spite of- or because of- its failings.¿ The first poem in the collection, ¿Arroz Poetica,¿ responds to the crisis of the current U.S. war with Iraq. She breathes life into the Iraqi dead, giving names and lives to those caught in the unnecessary crossfire. Girmay strips away abstract political propaganda, exposing the need to consider ethics, humanity, and ultimately reality when dealing with international relations. Girmay answers the question of who the ¿enemy¿ is: ¿They wear ball gowns & suits & rings/ to talk of war in neat & folded languages/ that will not stain their formal dinner clothes/ or tousle their hair.¿ She makes a clear distinction between those who ¿ordered the missiles¿ and those who ¿lose their children¿their houses & their streets,¿ offering sentiment and empathy to those who have gone altogether ignored, despite their anguish and sacrifice. Girmay writes of other unacknowledged tragedies in the world, addressing the inhumane treatment of those suffering in Darfur, as well as issues of race and sexual exploits that ring with a distinct universality. She celebrates her multicultural heritage 'Eritrean, Puerto Rican, and African American', infusing strength and courage into characters dealing with a great degree of mental and physical oppression. In ¿Cyclops Mary on the Avenue, a Monologue,¿ her title character responds to degradation by exploring her own beauty and that of the world around her, while examining her persecutor with pity and resilience. The aesthetic and aural qualities of language are celebrated in her artful, musical poems ¿Ode to the Letter B¿ and ¿For Estefani Lora, Third Grade, Who Made me a Card.¿ Mastering Sounds and playing with meanings, Girmay shows her immense skill and careful diction. One of the best poetry collections I have ever read, TEETH transports the reader into a world in which despair is acknowledged and explored, but ultimately hope reigns.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.