Who is Warsan Shire? Everything you need to know about the “Lemonade” poet

Beyoncé’s Lemonade — which we’re still not and may never be over — is a complex and fascinating musical project. The film/music video/album has many layers to it, including poetry, all of which was written by and adapted for the film by one Warsan Shire, a young poet who is now world-famous. Here’s everything you need to know about her.

What is Warsan Shire’s background?

According to Vogue, the 27-year-old poet was born in Kenya, but grew up in Somalia and Great Britain. That mixed background greatly influenced her poetry, which tends to focus on the immigrant experience and issues like abortion, sex, infidelity, and eating disorders.

“I still feel very homeless,” Shire told Well and Often four years ago. “I live in London and have been here nearly my whole life, but it is a difficult city to connect to. I have traveled around and found my body making more sense elsewhere.”

How big is she on the literary scene?

Shire is one of the most promising young poets of her generation. In 2014, she was named a Young Poet Laureate, the first in the history of London, and her debut book of poetry, published when Shire was only 21 and entitled Teaching My Mother How To Give Birth, has been published in multiple languages. She’s also a recipient of Brunel University’s first-ever African Poetry Prize.

Which of her poems are featured in Lemonade?

Beyoncé and Shire chose some of her best work. The poems heard in Lemonade include “Dear Moon,” “Warsan Versus Melancholy,” “How to Wear Your Mother’s Lipstick,” “The Unbearable Weight of Staying,” “For Women Who Are Difficult to Love,”and “Nail Technician as Palm Reader.”

Does Shire work in other mediums?

Shire has not limited her work to just poetry. She’s created a short film, released an album of her poetry, and, of course, adapted her poetry for the visual journey that is Lemonade.

Where can I get more Warsan Shire?

Right here on the internet! Shire maintains a Twitter, an Instagram, and a blog. And come Fall 2016, you can read her first full collection of poetry, Extreme Girlhood.

We are, too!

Filed Under