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Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Head: Shortlisted for the 2022 Felix Dennis Prize

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Shire introduced readers to her native language (with translations) and to the prayers and customs of her Muslim faith that gave her the strength to endure. In 2012 she represented Somalia at the Poetry Parnassus, the festival of the world poets at the Southbank, London. Albeit her technique seems the same: Shire is still drawing from her own life, as well as pop culture and news headlines. Sono rimasta folgorata da questa raccolta di poesia, la complessità e la varietà dei temi a comporre il mosaico di essere donne migranti, africane, nere, musulmane, divise tra la nostalgia della patria e l’adattamento al mondo occidentale, figlie rifiutate o poco amate… tanti, tantissimi argomenti, ma raccontati con pennellate folgoranti (mi ripeto ma è il termine giusto), dolorose, estremamente vivide ma mai pietose. Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Head is a poetry collection about girlhood, womanhood, grief, trauma, immigration, family.

Another thing that rubbed me the wrong way is the fact that some of these old poems were altered slightly for this "new" collection – often for the worse.With her first full-length poetry collection, Warsan Shire introduces us to a girl who, in the absence of a nurturing guide, makes her own stumbling way towards womanhood. Anche il tema del rifugiato ricorre e colpisce l’abilità dell’autrice di restituire immagini precise di un’esperienza che non ha fatto personalmente (figlia dei rifugiati somali è cresciuta nel Regno Unito).

The poems are powerful and I'm always amazed by her capacity to root her poems in the experiences of the body, but I don't know, I expected more exploration.Bless the Daugher is a collection of a more mature author, the poems are connected through themes and characters, the poems seem more thought out. Warshan Shire is a young Kenyan-born Somali poet and this book is her 1st full length collection of poems. Shire identifies the different ways in which the book may be read, commenting directly on the predicted experiences of her readers. There is a deep shared knowing between the speaker and the women in her life that makes possible escape, even if escape is only in the mind, even if escape cannot reprieve the vulnerability of compounded collective traumas.

You think you don't recognize the poet's name but most of the words in Beyonce's Lemonade were penned by Warsan Shire. In “Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Head,” Shire boldly weaves together a narrative of what it means to be displaced, disconnected from home, and incredibly vulnerable.The assonance of ‘veil’ and ‘il’ (the evil eye in Somali culture) is no coincidence, this is a demonstration of Shire’s technical agility that renders the narrative of this assemblage alive across all four sections. Dangers are everywhere, such as in a traffic stop where young people are compared to ‘ an animal standing on hind legs / pretending to understand why it must die.

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