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Aracelis Girmay's
Teeth

Author Interviews

Progressive Magazine Audio Interview with Girmay
Wisconsin Public Radio: Interview with Girmay
 

Poetry Readings

Watch Video of Girmay Reading her Work
Fishousepoems Audio Readings of the following Poems:
Kingdom Animalia
They Tell Me You Are Gone
Arroz Poetica
Ode to the Watermelon
To the (Heart) Horse
samuel johnson,

Dear,
Night, for Henry Dumas
Here
 

 

 

Book Discussion Questions

Arroz Poetica (Pg. 1)

  1. What words could be used instead of "casualties" (24)?  What effect would they have? 
  1. What is the significance, specifically, of the reference to "rice" and not some other food?
  1. Why does the poet use the Spanish word for rice in the title?


Jacaranda (Pg. 7)

  1. What is a "Jacaranda"?
  1. In what ways could the images in the poem be considered positive?
     

After Lightning, I Dream of Abrigette (Pg. 8)

  1. Who do you think Abrigette is? 
  1. What became of Abrigette?


Santa Ana of Grocery Carts (Pg. 9)

  1. Compare news reports of Santa Ana to the way it is described in this poem.
  1. Girmay was born in Santa Ana.  Do you get the sense that she misses it or not?  Why?


Ode to the Brain (Pg. 11)

  1. What is the effect of indenting "Ax" (14) by itself?
  1. What do you think the news was?
  1. Why is this an ode to the brain and not some other part of the body?


Ode to the Watermelon (Pg. 12)

  1. In what ways is this poem neither pro-Palestine nor pro-Israel?
  1. Why are the colors of the watermelon significant?
     

Palimpsest (Pg. 16)

  1. What is a "palimpsest"?  Why is it relevant to the poem?


Adisogdo's Song (Pg. 18)

  1. In what ways does this poem have the elements of a song? 
  1. How old are the daughters?

 
Ride (Pg. 20)

  1. Contrast the images in the first stanza with the ones in the second stanza. 
  1. The little boy says, "Excuse me, Mrs., but do you know the time?"  Does the translation add meaning to the poem? 


Then Sing (Pg. 21)

  1. Who are "they"?
  1. Who is Yosef and why was he in jail?


Here (Pg. 24)

  1. Why are certain phrases italicized?


To the (Heart) Horse (Pg. 31)

  1. Why is the word "Heart" in the title? 
  1. How did the poet feel about the horse earlier in her life?
  1. How does she feel about what happened to the horse?


Astigmatism (Pg. 32)

  1. How severe is the poet's astigmatism?
  1. Why does the poet "bless" the eye?
     

Conjugation (33)

  1. Where is Omonia Square? 
  1. What does it mean for trees to be "punctuated"?


The Piano (Pg. 35)

  1. Why is the word "perfect" in the last line significant?
  1. What is lost in the poem?


Teeth (Pg. 37)

  1. Where is Massawa and what is the significance of its liberation day?
  1. What do a person's teeth usually indicate about a person and is that consistent with what the poem says?


Consider the Hands that Write This Letter (Pg. 38)

  1. How does the poet feel about writing this letter?
  1. Where are Limay & Esteli?
     

13 (Pg. 40)

  1. Why is the number 13 significant?


Snail, Or, To a House (Pg. 41)

  1. Who is "the king"? 
  1. Why does the poet ask to be forgiven?

 
Hyena, Hyena (Pg. 43)

  1. What is a "korah"? 


Cyclops Mary (part I) (Pg. 44)

  1. Why would Old John make such comment?
  1. What is the significance of the color black in the poem?


Cyclops Mary on the Avenue, A Monologue (part I) (Pg. 45)

  1. Why does she describe herself as a "field"?
  2. Describe Cyclops Mary's non-physical features.


The Incredible Story of Mother Mom & the Daughter who was Taken by Crows (As Told by the Oldest Girl) (Pg. 47)

  1. Why is the shade described as "pitchfork"?  


Zouk (Pg. 51)

  1. What is "Boricua"?
  2. Why is that one image stand out to the poet?


ISH (Pg. 52)

  1. How did the poet feel about the teacher when she was younger? 
  1. Why is the word "ululation" significant?


Aunt Margaret, Tree of Blackbirds, Tree of Orange (Pg. 54)

  1. What is the poet's "other country?"
  1. What was Aunt Margaret's life like?


Chernobyl (Pg. 59)

  1. In what ways is the word "finished" significant?
  1. Why does poem stress eye imagery?


In the Cane Fields (Pg. 60)

  1. Why is the color red significant?
  1. What does it mean to be a "steel-blade" man or woman?
     

Limay, Nicaragua (Pg. 61)

  1. What happened in Limay?
  2. Who is the audience for this poem?


What Brang Me Here (Pg. 62)

  1. Who is Emmett Till and why is he relevant to this poem? 
  1. What is the "fruit" hanging from a tree?

 
But When They Go To Light the Fire on Me (Pg. 63)

  1. What does it mean "to light the fire"?. 


Lazrus & Girlie Speak of Rising a Hundred Days After Lazrus' Death (Pg. 65)

  1. Do you agree with what the preacher says?  Why or why not?
  2. In what ways can love be like a bird?


Ghazal (Pg. 67)

  1. In what ways is it important that this poem is written in the ghazal form? 
  2. Based on this poem, what rules do you think a ghazal follows?


Tucutu Tán (Pg. 69)

  1. What is flamboyán? 


Invocation (Pg. 73)

  1. What do the objects and people she asks to come have in common?
  1. Would you use this type of invocation?  Why or why not?
     

Antinion (76)

  1. What is an antinion
  1. Describe Francisco Vargas.
  2. Why does the poem mention his first and last name throughout the poem?


Scent: Love Poem for the Pilón (Pg. 81)

  1. What is a pilón?
  1. Why do the dogs bark?


The Dog (Pg. 82)

  1. Do you agree that the dog would behave the way the poet describes?
  1. What else might the dog do?


Ode to the Letter B (Pg. 84)

  1. Is your impression of the letter "B" similar to the poet's? Why or why not?
  1. In what ways is the form of the poem significant?
     

For Estefani Lora, Third Grade, Who Made Me a Card (Pg. 86)

  1. Why was the poet so interested in finding out the meaning of the word?
  2. In what ways is the poem's message illustrated through small things in daily life?


Monologue of the Heart Pumping Blood (Pg. 90)

  1. Whose heart does the poem refer to? 
  1. What does the last line mean?

 
Fiel (Pg. 92)

  1. What does "fiel" mean and why is it in Spanish? 


Love, (Pg. 93)

  1. Why is there a comma after "Love"?
  1. Why is love compared to a "line"?


The Photograph of Esther Ruth & (Cisco) (Pg. 94)

  1. In what ways are we, too, "ventriloquists"?

 

What Faith to be This Kind of Fish (Pg. 95)

  1. Where is Manzanillo?
  2. What type of faith does the poem refer to?


For the Psychic at Broadway & 207th (Pg. 97)

  1. Why is it significant that the psychic is pregnant
  1. What is the significance of seeing "windows"?

 
To the Child I Met Without Knowing the Story (Pg. 99)

  1. What do the poets Girmay quotes have in common?


The Rain at Dzorwulu (Pg. 101)

  1. Who is the "you" of the poem?


Litany (Pg. 103)

  1. What is the difference between "letting us go back" and "letting us go"?
  2. What are some of the common themes in the poem?

 

Epistolary Dream Poem After Finding A Schoolbook Map (Pg. 105)

  1. Why does the poet want to show places on a map?
  2. Who is Oshun?
  3. Describe the "you" of the poem.
 
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Other Resources

Films About Latino Immigration
Try the FREE surname search at the Origins Network and trace your origins online
For those who want to search family history:
OneGreatFamily

CIA World Factbook on Eritrea and Puerto Rico

This segment of the page was last updated on January 5, 2008

Eritrea

Map of Eritrea

 



 
Legend: DefinitionDefinition Field ListingField Listing Rank OrderRank Order
   Introduction    Eritrea Top of Page
Background:
Definition Field Listing
Eritrea was awarded to Ethiopia in 1952 as part of a federation. Ethiopia's annexation of Eritrea as a province 10 years later sparked a 30-year struggle for independence that ended in 1991 with Eritrean rebels defeating governmental forces; independence was overwhelmingly approved in a 1993 referendum. A two-and-a-half-year border war with Ethiopia that erupted in 1998 ended under UN auspices in December 2000. Eritrea currently hosts a UN peacekeeping operation that is monitoring a 25 km-wide Temporary Security Zone on the border with Ethiopia. An international commission, organized to resolve the border dispute, posted its findings in 2002. However, both parties have been unable to reach agreement on implementing the decision. In November 2006, the international commission informed Eritrea and Ethiopia they had one year to demarcate the border or the border demarcation would be based on coordinates.
   Geography    Eritrea Top of Page
Location:
Definition Field Listing
Eastern Africa, bordering the Red Sea, between Djibouti and Sudan
Geographic coordinates:
Definition Field Listing
15 00 N, 39 00 E
Map references:
Definition Field Listing
Africa
Area:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 121,320 sq km
land: 121,320 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area - comparative:
Definition Field Listing
slightly larger than Pennsylvania
Land boundaries:
Definition Field Listing
total: 1,626 km
border countries: Djibouti 109 km, Ethiopia 912 km, Sudan 605 km
Coastline:
Definition Field Listing
2,234 km (mainland on Red Sea 1,151 km, islands in Red Sea 1,083 km)
Maritime claims:
Definition Field Listing
territorial sea: 12 nm
Climate:
Definition Field Listing
hot, dry desert strip along Red Sea coast; cooler and wetter in the central highlands (up to 61 cm of rainfall annually, heaviest June to September); semiarid in western hills and lowlands
Terrain:
Definition Field Listing
dominated by extension of Ethiopian north-south trending highlands, descending on the east to a coastal desert plain, on the northwest to hilly terrain and on the southwest to flat-to-rolling plains
Elevation extremes:
Definition Field Listing
lowest point: near Kulul within the Denakil depression -75 m
highest point: Soira 3,018 m
Natural resources:
Definition Field Listing
gold, potash, zinc, copper, salt, possibly oil and natural gas, fish
Land use:
Definition Field Listing
arable land: 4.78%
permanent crops: 0.03%
other: 95.19% (2005)
Irrigated land:
Definition Field Listing
210 sq km (2003)
Natural hazards:
Definition Field Listing
frequent droughts; locust swarms
Environment - current issues:
Definition Field Listing
deforestation; desertification; soil erosion; overgrazing; loss of infrastructure from civil warfare
Environment - international agreements:
Definition Field Listing
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note:
Definition Field Listing
strategic geopolitical position along world's busiest shipping lanes; Eritrea retained the entire coastline of Ethiopia along the Red Sea upon de jure independence from Ethiopia on 24 May 1993
   People    Eritrea Top of Page
Population:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
4,906,585 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure:
Definition Field Listing
0-14 years: 43.5% (male 1,073,404/female 1,060,674)
15-64 years: 52.9% (male 1,286,613/female 1,310,294)
65 years and over: 3.6% (male 85,052/female 90,548) (2007 est.)
Median age:
Definition Field Listing
total: 17.9 years
male: 17.7 years
female: 18.2 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate:
Definition Field Listing
2.461% (2007 est.)
Birth rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
33.97 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
9.36 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate:
Definition Field Listing
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio:
Definition Field Listing
at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.012 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.982 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.939 male(s)/female
total population: 0.993 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 45.24 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 51.05 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 39.25 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total population: 59.55 years
male: 57.88 years
female: 61.28 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
4.96 children born/woman (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
2.7% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
60,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
6,300 (2003 est.)
Major infectious diseases:
Definition Field Listing
degree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne disease: malaria is a high risk in some locations (2007)
Nationality:
Definition Field Listing
noun: Eritrean(s)
adjective: Eritrean
Ethnic groups:
Definition Field Listing
Tigrinya 50%, Tigre and Kunama 40%, Afar 4%, Saho (Red Sea coast dwellers) 3%, other 3%
Religions:
Definition Field Listing
Muslim, Coptic Christian, Roman Catholic, Protestant
Languages:
Definition Field Listing
Afar, Arabic, Tigre and Kunama, Tigrinya, other Cushitic languages
Literacy:
Definition Field Listing
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 58.6%
male: 69.9%
female: 47.6% (2003 est.)

This page was last updated on 13 December, 2007


Map of Puerto Rico

 



 
Legend: DefinitionDefinition Field ListingField Listing Rank OrderRank Order
   Introduction    Puerto Rico Top of Page
Background:
Definition Field Listing
Populated for centuries by aboriginal peoples, the island was claimed by the Spanish Crown in 1493 following COLUMBUS' second voyage to the Americas. In 1898, after 400 years of colonial rule that saw the indigenous population nearly exterminated and African slave labor introduced, Puerto Rico was ceded to the US as a result of the Spanish-American War. Puerto Ricans were granted US citizenship in 1917. Popularly-elected governors have served since 1948. In 1952, a constitution was enacted providing for internal self government. In plebiscites held in 1967, 1993, and 1998, voters chose not to alter the existing political status.
   Geography    Puerto Rico Top of Page
Location:
Definition Field Listing
Caribbean, island between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, east of the Dominican Republic
Geographic coordinates:
Definition Field Listing
18 15 N, 66 30 W
Map references:
Definition Field Listing
Central America and the Caribbean
Area:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 13,790 sq km
land: 8,870 sq km
water: 4,921 sq km
Area - comparative:
Definition Field Listing
slightly less than three times the size of Rhode Island
Land boundaries:
Definition Field Listing
0 km
Coastline:
Definition Field Listing
501 km
Maritime claims:
Definition Field Listing
territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Climate:
Definition Field Listing
tropical marine, mild; little seasonal temperature variation
Terrain:
Definition Field Listing
mostly mountains with coastal plain belt in north; mountains precipitous to sea on west coast; sandy beaches along most coastal areas
Elevation extremes:
Definition Field Listing
lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: Cerro de Punta 1,339 m
Natural resources:
Definition Field Listing
some copper and nickel; potential for onshore and offshore oil
Land use:
Definition Field Listing
arable land: 3.69%
permanent crops: 5.59%
other: 90.72% (2005)
Irrigated land:
Definition Field Listing
400 sq km (2003)
Natural hazards:
Definition Field Listing
periodic droughts; hurricanes
Environment - current issues:
Definition Field Listing
erosion; occasional drought causing water shortages
Geography - note:
Definition Field Listing
important location along the Mona Passage - a key shipping lane to the Panama Canal; San Juan is one of the biggest and best natural harbors in the Caribbean; many small rivers and high central mountains ensure land is well watered; south coast relatively dry; fertile coastal plain belt in north
   People    Puerto Rico Top of Page
Population:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
3,944,259 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure:
Definition Field Listing
0-14 years: 21% (male 422,635/female 403,887)
15-64 years: 65.9% (male 1,247,314/female 1,352,139)
65 years and over: 13.1% (male 223,508/female 294,776) (2007 est.)
Median age:
Definition Field Listing
total: 35.1 years
male: 33.4 years
female: 36.8 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate:
Definition Field Listing
0.393% (2007 est.)
Birth rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
12.79 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
7.78 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate:
Definition Field Listing
-1.09 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio:
Definition Field Listing
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.046 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.922 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.758 male(s)/female
total population: 0.923 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 7.81 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 8.71 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 6.86 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total population: 78.54 years
male: 74.6 years
female: 82.67 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
1.77 children born/woman (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
NA
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
7,397 (1997)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
NA
Nationality:
Definition Field Listing
noun: Puerto Rican(s) (US citizens)
adjective: Puerto Rican
Ethnic groups:
Definition Field Listing
white (mostly Spanish origin) 80.5%, black 8%, Amerindian 0.4%, Asian 0.2%, mixed and other 10.9%
Religions:
Definition Field Listing
Roman Catholic 85%, Protestant and other 15%
Languages:
Definition Field Listing
Spanish, English
Literacy:
Definition Field Listing
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 94.1%
male: 93.9%
female: 94.4% (2002 est.)

 

 

 

Copyright 2006 LatinoStories.com design and content by John S. Christie and Jose B. Gonzalez
Copyright 2006 Latino Boom: An Anthology of U.S. Latino Literature, Pearson Education, Inc.
Copyright 2006 Latino Fiction and the Modernist Imagination, John S. Christie
Last Updated:
February 26, 2011

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