Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth by Warsan Shire



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. Born in 1988, she is an artist and activist who uses her work to document narratives of journey and trauma. Warsan has read her work internationally, including recent readings in South Africa, Italy and Germany, and her poetry has been translated into Italian, Spanish and Portuguese.

My Thoughts

Teaching my mother how to give birth is Warsan Shire’s debut collection. It’s a collection that I’ve wanted to read since 2016, and I’ve finally gotten around to it.

Her debut collection is an exploration of trauma, journey, womanhood, love, and of course motherhood. The second poem “Your Mother’s First Kiss” was so intensely emotional that by the last line I was in tears. As I was wiping the tears away, I was sure that this was definitely going to be my new favorite collection. Unfortunately, none of the poems afterward captured me as that one.

I loved the themes of this collection, they were relatable and the stories that Shire were able to weave were thought provoking and profound. Also, they were just relatable and timely. Truly as I sit here typing this out just can’t fathom why I didn’t love this collection.

When it comes down to it I loved pieces of it. Only one poem stands out to me, and that’s because it made me cry. There were a few quotes that I loved and that resonated with me, but as a whole the collection is forgettable to me.

I wanted so desperately to love this and it just wasn’t for me. Still I will be reading more from her, because while this one didn’t stand out for me there were things that I did like about it.

One thought on “Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth by Warsan Shire

  1. I know what you mean Heather! There are books with topics I love (like these topics! they were awesome! So much potential!) that just didn’t work for me! Hope your next read is better!


Talk to me!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s