Contemporary poetry is not complete without highlighting the works of Warsan Shire. This 29 year old Kenyan-born British-Somali has carved a niche for herself with her poetry, which explores the themes of loss of identity, immigration, love and loss and femininity.
Born to refugee parents who later emigrated to Britain, she has a unique position in projecting the voices of her family and of others like them: people who have been displaced due to war and agitation, people who have lost their identities and don’t really fit anywhere in the world.
She has described herself as restless and not never really belonging in her host country of England, where she has lived since she was a toddler.
Drawing from the memories of her mother, her aunts and others like them, the pain and disconnectedness bleeds into every word she writes and makes her poetry heart-rending, poignant and very relevant in today’s political and social climate. Migrants in particular can relate very much to the echoes of loss and regretful longing her words evoke.
Her latest collection Teaching My Mother How To Give Birth was an effusive tribute to women, body image issues, the pressure of loving others and loving yourself, and the migrant experience. It is a beautiful work that has been sampled by Beyonce in her Lemonade album.
We love her, and we love her words.