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.
Review – ★★★★ (4 stars)
Published: 2011 | Publisher: Flipped Eye Publishing | Pages: 38
Somali-Brit poet – Warsan Shire’s writing is biting, abrupt and shocking. Most of the poems in Teaching My Mother How To Give Birth have recurring themes of immigrant life, being a refugee, war, death, sex, relationships, womanhood, Islam (almost similar to the themes in Somali-Brit – Diriye Osman’s short stories collection, Fairytales For Lost Children). The first set of poems in this collection were pretty wild and literally had my heart racing. When I finished reading this collection back in March 2016, I craved more because this collection was way too short. I’m definitely looking forward to Shire’s new collection of poems entitled, Extreme Girlhood- which is set to be published soon!
One of my favorite quotes:
Sofia used pigeon blood on her wedding night.
Next day, over the phone, she told me
how her husband smiled when he saw the sheets,
that he gathered them under his nose,
closed his eyes and dragged his tongue
over the stain.
She mimicked his baritone, how he whispered
her name – Sofia,
pure, chaste, untouched.
We giggled over the static…
I knew Warsan Shire was a talented poet back in 2013 and was aware of all the accolades she’s been awarded over the years. Thanks to my 2016 Reading Goals to incorporate more poetry into my reading challenge, I decided to finally give Shire’s poetry a try and I must say – I’ve been blessed by her work!
Purchase Teaching My Mother How To Give Birth Here.
Darkowaa (@AwoDeee) is an American born Ghanaian, currently living where her heart feels most at home – Accra, Ghana. She doesn’t consider herself a writer or a bookworm… She prefers to call herself an African Book Addict! Books written by people of African descent / from the African diaspora excite her the most, and hopefully they’ll excite you too!
Review originally posted on AfricanBookAddict.com
Related country: Somalia