Aracelis Girmay

BA, Connecticut College. MFA, New York University. Born and raised in Santa Ana, California, her poems trace the connections of transformation and loss across cities and bodies. Her poetry collections include Teeth (2007) and Kingdom Animalia (2011). She is also the author of the collage-based picture book changing, changing (2005). In 2011 Girmay was awarded a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. A Cave Canem Fellow and an Acentos board member, she led youth and community writing workshops. SLC, 2016

Previous Courses

D U.S. K S: Poetry Craft


About the French idiom to describe dusk, Jean Genet writes in Prisoner of Love, “The hour between dog and wolf, that is dusk, when the two can’t be distinguished from each other, suggests a lot of other things besides the time of day…The hour in which…every being becomes his own shadow and thus something other than himself. The hour of metamorphoses, when people half hope, half fear that a dog will become a wolf.” In this course, we will work to cultivate a real community of writers and readers around texts that push us to think about dusk, or the in-between, in a selection of contemporary “U.S.-American” poems/writings. (I am thinking about this sociopolitical moment. I use quotes around “U.S.-American” to point to its/our transnational identities and histories.) Together, we will study poems through this dusky lens and will discuss theoretical texts that push us to think about the various openings, consequences, and implications of The In-Between. We will think about the ways in which craft elements such as diction, line, time, and tense might mark the dusky space of a poem where clarity is slant, obscured, and knowledge-bent—subjects diffused and shifting shape. Readings will vary week to week but, on average, please be prepared to read, in addition to supplementary materials, a book every week to two weeks. Among the writers we will likely read are Bhanu Kapil, Eduardo Corral, Lucille Clifton, Fanny Howe, Claudia Rankine, Jennifer Bartlett, Solmaz Sharif, Audre Lorde, Gloria Anzaldúa, Patrick Rosal, Layli Long Soldier, Shane McCrae, and Jean Valentine. In addition to readings, writers will participate in both generative writing experiments and revisions. I believe that, like writing the dream, writing the dusk can alter language and/or how we expect language to behave and that this lens might be a route to possibility with the poems and in one’s daily sight. Class members should be committed to deepening their practice as imaginative (live!) readers, writers, and community members.