Teaching My Mother To Give Birth by Warsan Shire

September 7, 2015
Teaching My Mother To Give Birth by Warsan Shire, InToriLex, Book Review
Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth
What elevates 'teaching my mother how to give birth', what gives the poems their disturbing brilliance, is Warsan Shire's ability to give simple, beautiful eloquence to the veiled world where sensuality lives in the dominant narrative of Islam; reclaiming the more nuanced truths of earlier times - as in Tayeb Salih's work - and translating to the realm of lyric the work of the likes of Nawal El Saadawi. As Rumi said, "Love will find its way through all languages on its own"; in 'teaching my mother how to give birth', Warsan's debut pamphlet, we witness the unearthing of a poet who finds her way through all preconceptions to strike the heart directly. Warsan Shire is a Kenyan-born Somali poet and writer who is based in London. Born in 1988, she is an artist and activist who uses her work to document narratives of journey and trauma. Warsan has read her work internationally, including recent readings in South Africa, Italy and Germany, and her poetry has been translated into Italian, Spanish and Portuguese.


"I have my mother's mouth and my fathers eyes, on my face they are still together." 

I don't get a chance to read a lot of poetry, but when I do it pulls at my soul. I stared at the cover of this slim but powerful book for a while. The imaginative and powerful image of a gun going through a woman is enough to think on how my own voice is muzzled by myself but also the environment I'm in. I love this poet and she conveys deep and powerful emotion through her writing. I first discovered her through a short youtube video, where images are added to her words.

Poetry has an amazing ability to reach you in ways nothing else does. Her poetry brings her pro-feminist views un-apologetically forward. If you would like to read more poetry or are intrigued by the words, definitely check Warsan Shire out, she's amazing and I'm in awe of her talent. 


Warsan Shire is a 27 year old Kenyan-born Somali poet, writer and educator based in London. Born in 1988, Warsan has read her work extensively all over Britain and internationally - including recent readings in South Africa, Italy, Germany, Canada, North America and Kenya- and her d├ębut book, 'TEACHING MY MOTHER HOW TO GIVE BIRTH' (flipped eye), was published in 2011. Her poems have been published in Wasafiri, Magma and Poetry Review and in the anthology 'The Salt Book of Younger Poets' (Salt, 2011). She is the current poetry editor at SPOOK magazine. In 2012 she represented Somalia at the Poetry Parnassus, the festival of the world poets at the Southbank, London. She is a Complete Works II poet. Her poetry has been translated into Italian, Spanish and Portuguese. Warsan is also the unanimous winner of the 2013 Inaugural Brunel University African Poetry Prize.


Kindlemom said...

It has been a really long time since I have read anything like this either, probably not since school. So glad this was so good and really made you think.

InToriLex said...

Thanks for commenting and stopping by!!

Anonymous said...

I've been meaning to get my hands on Shire's pamphlets for a while - the quotes I've seen from her work are staggeringly beautiful - but your review is the one that made my buy them, so thank you for that!

InToriLex said...

Definitely, Read it sooner than later!!!

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