January 2014 Book Discussion: Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth by Warsan Shire

JOIN THE DISCUSSION AT THEPERUSALISTSOCIETY.WORDPRESS.COM

warsanTeaching My Mother How to Give Birth by Warsan Shire

Amazon: 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.

Additional Biography: This is Shire’s only book and is the final chapbook of the Mouthmark series published in the UK by flipped eye publishing. The full series can be purchased here. She has been published in Wasafiri, Magma, and Poetry Review, and in the anthology The Salt Book of Younger Poets.  Shire was the poetry editor at SPOOK magazine (they don’t appear to publish poetry any longer) and represented Somalia at the Poetry Parnassus. Shire can be found here.

Discussion Questions:
*This is very short collection compared to our previous reads. How did that work for you? How does her work compare to the previous books we’ve read?

*As the description mentions above, Shire is an “activist” – how do you feel about her book as it pertains to documenting “narratives of journey and trauma”? Here she is performing “Conversations About Home” from Teaching My Mother to Give Birth in which she discusses the experience of going through a deportation center:

*Any thoughts about how she compares to other female “activist” poets? How do you think Shire feels about being an activist herself (specifically “Questions for Miriam”)?

*In her final poem, Shire writes:
                        To my daughter I will say,
‘when the men come, set yourself on fire’.
Why do you think she says this and how do you feel about the way men are portrayed in Teaching My Mother to Give Birth?

For those who were unable to read this month’s book, here are two additional videos by Shire:

*What do you like/dislike? For those who read, how do these compare to Teaching My Mother to Give Birth?

Next Book Up: February 2014 Another Creature by Pamela Gemin

JOIN THE DISCUSSION AT THEPERUSALISTSOCIETY.WORDPRESS.COM

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