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A year ago, we reported the appointment of Warsan Shire as London’s first ever young poet laureate. Well, a whole year has now passed and her tenure has come to an end.

According to BBC news, she had a memorable “year of residences ranging from the Houses of Parliament to beauty salons…as well as the creation of a body of work which represented how she saw an ever-changing London, which in turn changed her.”

“Despite being born in Kenya to Somali parents, Ms Shire grew up in Wembley and Harlesden.” But it was until her work as London’s young laureate that she truly bonded with the city more intimately.

“I’ve lived here my whole entire life” she says in the BBC report, “but I always used to have this idea that I didn’t feel like I belonged, but after this year it feels so much more like home.”

The life of a city’s poet laureate has got to be hectic—traveling all over the city on speaking assignments, writing and sharing your work with people, in addition to conducting numerous writing workshops.

In addition to the intense artistic experience the position afforded her, Shire also learned practical things during her tenure:

“I’ve had presentation and media training and it’s taught me small things like how to invoice properly and if you’re going to freelance for the rest of the life you need to know that.

“You have deadlines to meet which was one of the the biggest things – writing to commission. You’re asked to write to a brief and then you have a week to get it out and I actually learned I quite like working under pressure.

If you’ve never read Shire’s work, you’re missing out. The visceral beauty in her writing, the unique way she writes about women and bodies and intimacy is beyond stunning.

Click HERE for a couple of poems to get you started. Feel free to check out her poetry chap book Teaching My Mother How to Giver Birth HERE.

With her laureateship up, what next? She plans to work on the “manuscript for her first full collection of poetry and publishing the work she created for YPL.”

We wish Warsan Shire all the best and look forward to reading more of her work.

 

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

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