Reclamation Reading Room: Teaching My Mother How To Give Birth


Warsan Shire is a genius. Many people came to her work through Beyonce’s “Lemonade” but this booklet came out in 2011 when she was still on Twitter and sharing her poetry through her blog. Everything she writes is worth reading, although she has been quiet for the last few years.


“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.”