When the credits roll on Beyoncé’s “Lemonade,” one of the first names to appear doesn’t belong to a songwriter, director or producer. It belongs to a poet. A poet whose words are “terrifying and strange and beautiful” Words: Bianca Agenbag
Yesterday, we told you all about Beyoncé collector’s edition box set dubbed “How to Make LEMONADE”, which will include a double vinyl LP, audio and visual album download and a 600+ page coffee table book with hundreds of photos, lyric scribbles and poetry from Warsan Shire. Of course, we wanted to know more about the mysterious poet and her story goes a little like this…
When Beyoncé released “Lemonade”, which can only be referred to as an unapologetic exploration of family, infidelity and the black female body, back in 2016 the world was captivated and rightly so. However many would agree that it was the spoken word, beautifully weaving together the cinematic and emotional, which resonated long after the music has ended. And it belongs to no other than the rising 27-year-old Somali-British poet, Warsan Shire.
Beyoncé’s interest in Shire’s work was sparked by her famous piece “For Women Who Are Difficult To Love” (a self-affirmation mantra for lovelorn women) which she adapted for the album including “The Unbearable Weight Of Staying,” “How To Wear Your Mother’s Lipstick,” “Dear Moon,” “Grief Has Its Blue Hands In Her Hair,” and “Nail Technician As Palm Reader.”
Being credited with “film adaptation and poetry,” “Lemonade” may have propelled Shire to pop-culture fame, but even before that she was known as a gripping voice on black womanhood and the African diaspora.
Born in Kenya and growing up in London left Shire feeling like an outsider and it is this longing to belong that fuels her sensual, witty, and often grief-stricken poetry. The New Yorker even called her and embodiment of the “shape-shifting, culture-juggling spirit lurking in most people who can’t trace their ancestors,” and it is in this state of limbo that Shire managed to create a language for belonging and displacement.
Shire has become the new generation poet who gives a voice to those who, as Shire said herself, stories are either not told or told inaccurately, especially immigrants and refugees. She is also quoted saying, “I navigate a lot through memory, my memories, and other people’s memories, trying to essentially just make sense of stuff”
Captivating audiences with her quiet charisma and riveting verse, SA culture writer Milisuthando Bongela hit home when he said: “She reads like how Nina Simone sounds”.
The talented writer has won international awards, has been published in various literary journals and anthologies and translated into a number of languages. Her published chapbooks of poetry including “Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth” and “Her Blue Body” is strikingly beautiful and we can’t wait to she what she does next.
For Women Who Are Difficult to Love
you are a horse running alone
and he tries to tame you
compares you to an impossible highway
to a burning house
says you are blinding him
that he could never leave you
want anything but you
you dizzy him, you are unbearable
every woman before or after you
is doused in your name
you fill his mouth
his teeth ache with memory of taste
his body just a long shadow seeking yours
but you are always too intense
frightening in the way you want him
unashamed and sacrificial
he tells you that no man can live up to the one who
lives in your head
and you tried to change didn’t you?
closed your mouth more
tried to be softer
less volatile, less awake
but even when sleeping you could feel
him travelling away from you in his dreams
so what did you want to do love
split his head open?
you can’t make homes out of human beings
someone should have already told you that
and if he wants to leave
then let him leave
you are terrifying
and strange and beautiful
something not everyone knows how to love.
– See more at: https://csa.global/the-wire/beyonc%C3%A9-has-muse-and-shes-african#sthash.hnLTUlM1.dpuf