The Somali-British poet Warsan Shire’s debut full-length poetry collection Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Head will be published in 2022, in the U.S. by Random House and in the U.K. by Chatto & Windus. British press flipped eye will also release a special limited edition.
The book is already sold in eight territories. Rocking Chair Books, whose agent Samar Hammam represented Shire for the UK and Commonwealth rights, holds the translation rights.
“To encounter Shire’s work is an unforgettable experience,” Chatto publisher Clara Farmer and editor Charlotte Humphery said. “She writes with sharpness and tenderness and intimacy—and her poetry inhabits the mind and body of the reader.”
Here is a description:
With her first full-length poetry collection, Warsan Shire introduces us to a young girl, who, in the absence of a nurturing guide, makes her own stumbling way towards womanhood. Drawing from her own life, as well as pop culture and news headlines, Shire finds vivid, unique details in the experiences of refugees and immigrants, mothers and daughters, Black women, and teenage girls.
In Shire’s hands, lives spring into fullness. This is noisy life: full of music and weeping and surahs and sirens and birds. This is fragrant life: full of blood and perfume and shisha smoke and jasmine and incense. This is polychrome life: full of henna and moonlight and lipstick and turmeric and kohl.
The long-awaited collection from one of our most exciting contemporary poets, this book is a blessing, an incantatory celebration of resilience and survival. Each reader will come away changed.
The book, Shire said, is “an exploration of how far the tendrils of childhood trauma reach. An invocation of parentified children and the adulescents/ adults they become. A rite of passage into girlhood, looking back and forward in a surreal examination of family, everything remembered and forgotten meet in a fever dream.”
“Bless the Daughter marks the further blossoming of a talent that has yet to reach its zenith,” Nii Ayikwei Parkes, founder and editor of flipped eye, said.
Warsan Shire, 32, was born to Somali parents in Nairobi, Kenya. Raised in London, she won the inaugural Brunel International African Poetry Prize in 2013. She is the author of two chapbooks, Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth and Her Blue Body, both published by flipped eye. She was the first Young Poet Laureate for London and is the youngest Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, in its “40 Under 40” category.
For many people, her poems have come to represent strength and comfort. “No one leaves home unless/ home is the mouth of a shark,” a line from the poem “Home,” has been called “a rallying call for refugees and their advocates.” Her poetry frames Beyoncé’s 2016 visual album Lemonade.
The publication of Bless the Daughter, Chatto said, will come with “a major international campaign of publicity, partnerships, and events across ‘poetry, music, and beyond.’”
Bless the Daughter comes out March 1 in the U.S. and March 3 in the U.K. flipped eye will publish its limited print run on February 24.