On Tuesday, October 26, the University’s Stadler Center for Poetry and Literary Arts welcomed poet Aracelis Girmay for a poetry reading to the University community; the reading was held live via Zoom at 7pm. Students, faculty and others joined the Zoom to listen to Girmay’s works and support the literary community on the campus.
Born in late 1977, Girmay was raised in Santa Ana, California. She earned a BA from Connecticut College and an MFA from New York University. Her well known poetry collections include Teeth (2007), Kingdom Animalia (2011) and The Black Maria (2016).
Assistant Professor of Creative Writing and Acting Director of the Stadler Center Katie Hays welcomed all audience members to the event and introduced Girmay. Those who attended made use of the Zoom chat function to praise the poet and share their favorite lines, stanzas, and other components of her work.
During the discussion, Girmay shared her experience at the boarding school she previously attended as a young adult, and how that sparked inspiration for some of her works. One poem in particular concerns a horse that held important meaning in her early development. Her experiences with this horse helped her craft a poem about freedom and love, titled “To The Heart Horse.” “Oh hooves who never killed me even once though there were chances,” Girmay recounted the poem to an excited virtual crowd, “I remember you on this road through Pennsylvania. Fog riding the hills like steam off a horse’s neck.”
Girmay’s poetry and discussion enabled the student audience – peppered with young creatives and budding poets – to understand from where her creativity and inspiration were drawn. Professor Katie Hays’s poetry workshop has been studying Girmay’s works from Kingdom Animalia, including the works “Elegy,” “On Living,” and “Explaining the Land Mine to the Small Child.” The class admires Girmay’s use of descriptive language as well as the ability to bring personal emotion and connection into her poetry.
Creative Writing major and student of Hays Peyton Dripps ’23 was grateful to attend Girmay’s presentation. “I was excited to learn more about [her] poems as we have focused on her book, Kingdom Animalia, in my poetry class,” Dripps shared. “It was nice to learn about her past and how these memories tied into her writing.”
On Thursday, October 28, the University also had an opportunity to learn more about Aracelis Girmay and her writing process through a Q&A session held over Zoom at noon. Students and faculty members were given the opportunity to ask questions and communicate directly with the poet about her writing and creative endeavors. The University is grateful to Girmay for joining the community to gain a more in depth understanding of her poetry.