Book Review:
Teaching My Mother How To Give Birth by Warsan Shire

Title: Teaching My Mother How To Give Birth
Author: Warsan Shire
Published: 2011
Language: English
Pages: 34
Rating: 5/5

A debut pamphlet containing the poetry of Warsan Shire.

Wow. Just wow.

I have no idea where to start with this, or really pinpoint what moved me so much. It's such a small book, and yet it carries so much weight. It's brilliant.

I love this kind of poetry, where the author tells us what feels like very personal stories, where you're let into their world, where they manage to surprise you. I felt like I was shown whole worlds in just a few sentences and that is rather extraordinary. The poetry all stand on their own, and yet they belong together.

I find it really hard to choose one poem, but the second one hit me right in the gut. It's called "Your Mother's First Kiss":

The first boy to kiss your mother later raped women
when the war broke out. She remembers hearing this
from your uncle, then going to your bedroom and lying
down on the floor. You were at school.

Your mother was sixteen when he first kissed her.
She held her breath for so long that she blacked out.
On waking she found her dress was wet and sticking
to her stomach, half moons bitten into her thighs.

The same evening she visited a friend, a girl
who fermented wine illegally in her bedroom.
When your mother confessed I've never been touched
like that before, the friend laughed, mouth bloody with grapes,
then plunged a hand between your mother's legs.

Last week, she saw him driving then number 18 bus,
his cheek a swollen drumlin, a vine scar dragging itself
across his mouth. You were with her, holding a bag
of dates to your chest, heard her let out a deep moan
when she saw how much you looked like him.
p. 8

I would highly recommend this book. It's one of the most extraordinary poetry collections I've ever read.

You can get this book at The Book Depository*
You can read more about it on Goodreads

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