Aracelis Girmay was born and raised in Santa Ana, California. She received a BA from Connecticut College in 1999 and went on to earn an MFA in poetry from New York University.
She is the author of the black maria (BOA Editions, 2016), Kingdom Animalia (BOA Editions, 2011), winner of the Isabella Poetry Award and a finalist for the National Books Critics Circle Award, and Teeth (Curbstone Press, 2007). In a statement for the New American Poets series, she says of her work, “I hope the poems are songs sometimes. I want the poems to ask questions. To engage other people. To promote compassion.”
Girmay was awarded a Whiting Award in 2015, and the judges’ citation notes that “her project seems to be our deep and ongoing subjectivity, our vulnerability to history, to one another, to desire, and to the belief in something large and lasting that we might belong to. There’s empathy, play, and fearlessness here, and both formal and emotional range.”
Girmay is also the author / collagist of the picture book, changing, changing (George Braziller, 2005), and, with her sister, collaborated on the picture book What Do You Know? (Enchanted Lion, 2021). She has received fellowships from Cave Canem, Civitella Ranieri, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Girmay is currently the Editor-at-Large for BOA Editions' Blessing the Boats Selections, and she is on the editorial board of the African Poetry Book Fund. She lives in New York City.