Review: Teaching my Mother How to Give Birth

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Warsan Shire is a Kenyan-born Somali writer, poet and author of poetry collection “Teaching my Mother how to Give Birth”. She has read her work internationally, with the collection having been translated into French, Spanish and more. Warsan was also previously the Poet Laureate of London.

Warsan Shire came to prominence in April 2016, after the release of Beyoncé’ album Lemonade. Shire rose up on the public’s radar because she was quoted throughout Lemonade, which was (then) seen to a be a dig at Jay Z owing to long-standing allegations of cheating. Beyoncé reads extracts from Shire’s poetry like “The Unbearable Weight of Staying (at the end of a relationship)” throughout the album. While we know it was a publicity stunt, it was a watershed moment for the representation of British Somali poetry both at home and worldwide.

“Teaching my Mother How to Give Birth” was originally published in 2011, and later re-pressed owing to a renewed interest in her work. The work is a stunning feat, and the poems burst with energy and eloquence.

The image of the Muslim woman and the image of the migrant are things that are currently portrayed as scary, untoward or out of the blue in our society at the moment. These are topics Shire directly addresses in her work. Touching on topics relating to religion, love, relationships, womanhood, being a refugee and heritage, it’s not very surprising that her work has proven to be very popular.



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