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Warsan Shire

Poet Warsan Shire, who was born in Kenya to Somali parents in 1988, grew up in London and currently lives in California. Raised by immigrants and refugees in Harlesden in North-West London, Shire calls herself a “build up” of many different “cultures, countries, languages,” who is “writing about here [England], writing about Somalia” (Shire 2013). Her particular diasporic experience is marked by a deeply ambiguous and uncanny shuttling between positions and origins, between home and away. Her poems of witness move in circles around non-traditional female genealogies and burrow for the partially-destroyed roots of family trees.

Her work oscillates seamlessly between verse and prose-poetry. In 2011 flipped eye published her first poetry chapbook, entitled Teaching My Mother How To Give Birth. This debut was followed by a second pamphlet called Our Men Do Not Belong To Us (Slapering How Press and the Poetry Foundation, 2014) and another chapbook entitled Her Blue Body (flipped eye, 2015), which consists of work originating from her time as the first Young Poet Laureate for London. Her work also has been published in periodicals such as Wasafiri, Magma, Poetry Review and in the anthology The Salt Book of Younger Poets (2011). In 2012 she produced an album of spoken word poetry entitled warsan versus melancholy (the seven stages of loneliness). Her first full collection, Extreme Girlhood, is forthcoming. (JL)


Hess, Amanda. “Warsan Shire, the Woman Who Gave Poetry to Beyoncé’s ‘Lemonade.’” The New York Times 27 April 2016. Web. 4 Dec. 2017.

Okeowo, Alexis. “The Writing Life of Warsan Shire, A Young, Prolific Poet.” The New Yorker 15 Oct. 2015. Web. 1 Oct. 2017.

Shire, Warsan. “Araweelo Abroad x Warsan Shire.” Interview with Ifrah Ahmed. Araweelo Abroad 2 (2015). Web. 1 Nov. 2017. 

—. Her Blue Body. London: flipped eye publishing, 2015.

—. Our Men Do Not Belong To Us. New York: Slapering Hol Press, 2014.

—. “Poet Warsan Shire: Love Who You Are” Interview with Aliecia Brissett. Urbanology Magazine, 2016. Web. 1 Oct. 2017.

—. “Q&A: Poet, writer and educator Warsan Shire.” Interview with Katie Reid. Africa in Words. 21 June 2013. Web 1 Oct. 2017.

—. Teaching My Mother How To Give Birth. London: flipped eye publishing. 2011.

—. “To Be Vulnerable and Fearless: An Interview with Writer Warsan Shire.” Interview with Kameelah Janan Rasheed. Well & Often Nov. 2012. Web. 1 Nov. 2017. 

—. “Warsan Shire Has Beef with Iambic Pentameter.” Interview with Anupta Mistry. Hazlitt 4 Sept. 2013. Web. 1 Nov. 2017.

—. warsan versus melancholy (the seven stages of being lonely). Digital Album. Bandcamp. 14 Feb. 2012.

—. Your Family, Your Body. Penguin Modern Poets 3Malika Booker, Sharon Olds, Warsan Shire. London: Penguin. 2017.

Zakaria, Rafia. “Warsan Shire: the Somali-British poet quoted by Beyoncé in Lemonade.” The Guardian 27 April 2016. Web. 1 Oct. 2017. 


Image source: Amaal Said (