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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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Poems of women using pigeon blood on their wedding night to appear ‘ chaste’, to ‘ protecting body and home / from intruders.

Drawing from her life and the lives of loved ones, as well as pop culture, news headlines and banter, Warsan untwines vivid, transformative details from the experiences of refugees and immigrants, mothers and daughters, Black women and teenage girls. Speaking of the poem Home, it reappears in this collection newly revised and with a part 2 accompanying the already harrowing words.While the sectioning of her poems in such a way suggests a clear difference between or progression among them, Shire’s poetic style and the content of her poems are rather static until the book’s end. Shire’s strikingly beautiful imagery leverages the specificity of her own womanhood, love life, tussles with mental health, grief, family history, and stories from the Somali diaspora, to make them reverberate universally. I was a little upset that some of poems where in the previous book, but she made changes to them that feel like final forms that really fit into the maturity of her talent and this book. Like, Miss Shire really said it's fun for the whole family because after reading Lullaby For Father, I picked up the phone to contact my dad so he could hear it and maybe even cry for himself too.

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. It is full of Arabic words (which are explained in an informative glossary at the end of the collection); it's full of (to-me) foreign music and sounds (of the surahs, the birds, and sirens); it smells of blood, perfume, jasmine and shisha smoke. The collection truly ends with the poem “Nail Technician as a Palm Reader,” closing with the image of a daughter “blossoming / out of a hole in my face. That of the refugee "All these men between my legs, a gun, a promise, a lie, his name, his flag, his language, his manhood in my mouth. In 2012 she represented Somalia at the Poetry Parnassus, the festival of the world poets at the Southbank, London.This to say that I thought some of these poems were striking and memorable (particularly the one on Victoria Climbie), whereas others - whilst including some great imagery and writing - didn't leave much of an impression. I also love how some known poems are brought in, but are given a new life and a new meaning in the context of the whole collection, a whole girlhood. Her poems deal both with these weighty subjects as well as more personal reflections about her family and her faith.

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