Biography of Warsan Shire

Warsan Shire is a Somali poet and activist. Born in Kenya in 1988, she was raised in London and lives in Los Angeles. She is the author of three poetry collections—teaching my mother how to give birth, published by Flipped Eye in 2011, Our Men Do Not Belong to Us, published by Slapering How Press and the Poetry Foundation in 2014, and Her Blue Body, published by Flipped Eye in 2015. She also released a collection of spoken poems, warsan versus melacholy (the seven stages of loneliness), on Bandcamp in 2012.

Shire was the Young Poet Laureate of London in 2014. In 2016, excerpts from Shire's poems were featured in Beyoncé's Lemonade. She is often cited as a prominent Internet poet, gaining notoriety via sharing her work on Tumblr and Twitter. Her poem "For Women Who are Difficult to Love" went viral upon its publication.

Among many themes, her poetry often discusses displacement, migration, and the refugee experience, in a language which she described as evocative of the “surrealism of everyday immigrant life—one day you are in your country, having fun, drinking mango juice, and the next day you are in the Underground in London and your children are speaking to you in a language you don’t understand.” Her poetry covers themes of femininity, family, home (or the lack thereof), sex, race, and all their tangled intersections and deviations, and is always visceral, raw, and alive.


Study Guides on Works by Warsan Shire

Warsan Shire is a poet and activist of a Kenyan-Somali ethnic background and grew up in London. Her poem "Backwards" was published by flipped eye during 2011 in her poetry book Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth.

This poem tells the story of...

Warsan Shire is a young (born in 1988) London-based Kenyan-born female writer from Somali whose strength as a poet lies in her straightforwardness. Most of her poems, like the one is question, “Difficult Names”, are in prose, which defies the...

Warsan Shire is a Kenyan-born Somali poet whose work has risen in prominence since some of her verse was featured in the singer Beyonce's film 'Lemonade', released in 2016. Her debut collection - entitled Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth - was...

"The House" is a poem written by Warsan Shire, a poet and activist with a Kenyan-Somali background. This is one of many poems within her poetry book Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth, which was published during 2011 by flipped eye. Such a book...

"The Unbearable Weight of Staying" is a poem written by Warsan Shire, an acclaimed poet and social activist. This poem appears in her book Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth, which was published during 2011 by Flipped Eye. In pages saturated...