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  • Writer's pictureThe Publishing Post

BIPOC Poetry Recommendations

By Nadia Freeman, Nadia Shah and Yumna Iqbal

In our upcoming 97th issue, we're excited to delve into the world of BIPOC poetry. With a focus on celebrating diversity and amplifying underrepresented voices, we'll be curating a selection of powerful and poignant poetry collections from various BIPOC authors.

Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Head by Warsan Shire

Warsan Shire captivates readers with her latest offering, Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Head, a poignant exploration of womanhood, resilience and survival. Through vivid imagery and raw emotion, Shire paints a powerful portrait of lives shaped by displacement, trauma and the quest for belonging.

Drawing from personal experiences and the stories of others, Shire's poetry transcends boundaries, weaving together narratives of refugees, immigrants, Black women and teenage girls. With each verse, she delves into the complexities of identity, navigating the intersections of race, gender and culture with unflinching honesty.

This collection is not for the faint of heart. Shire confronts the harsh realities of existence with a fearless intensity, laying bare the wounds of oppression and the ache of longing. Yet, amidst the pain, there is a profound sense of resilience and hope, as Shire's language offers solace and redemption in the face of adversity.

Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Head is a testament to Shire's undeniable talent and her ability to evoke empathy and understanding through poetry. With each carefully crafted line, she invites readers to bear witness to the struggles and triumphs of marginalised communities, urging us to confront our own complicity in perpetuating systems of oppression.

As we immerse ourselves in Shire's world, we are reminded of the power of literature to challenge, inspire and, ultimately, to heal. Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Head is a stirring reminder of the resilience of the human spirit and the transformative potential of storytelling.

The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran

Arguably one of the most notable poetry collections in the last century, Gibran’s The Prophet has been translated into twenty languages, with millions of copies sold all over the world. Kahlil Gibran was a highly renowned Lebanese-American writer and poet, with the collection becoming one of the best- selling books of all time.

This classic explores many themes over the collection, embedded in philosophical thought. Topics such as love, religion and death can be found in the text – which contains twenty-eight chapters. It focuses particularly on the poignant aspects of life and how all experiences, whether good or bad, inevitably make us appreciate what we have gone through.

It tells the story of a wise man known as Al Mustafa, who gives sermon to the people he meets as he is about to leave a fictional island upon which he has been exiled for the past twelve years. Before leaving to return home, the citizens of the island request him to share his wisdom on various aspects of life. The Prophet is regarded as Gibran’s most popular work.

If They Come for Us by Fatimah Asghar

Asghar’s debut poetry collection, published in 2018, has seen much success, being nominated as a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award. Being semi-biographical, Asghar draws from her own past experiences growing up as a Pakistani-American woman in America and dealing with issues such as relationships, race and identity without the comfort of her mother and father. Dealing with raw emotions throughout the collection, Asghar explores how violence exists in our lives, how it can be passed through generations and how it can be brought to life.

The collection primarily recounts stories from the Partition of Pakistan and India in 1947, of those who migrated and also of the violence that happened towards women and children. The writing style is raw: hard-hitting with its descriptions, the speaker truly encapsulates the emotions felt as the collection stems from stories of the past and present.

This collection is a must read!

Quiet by Victoria Adukwei Bulley

Victoria Adukwei Bulley’s Quiet marks the poet’s debut collection, expanding upon the success of her previous poems. Race is always relevant to the British-born Ghanaian writer, woven into her work in subtle ways. Towering ideas of what it means to be Black, or non-white, appear through the ordinary; through an awareness of appearance, for example, with everyday observations of hair relaxants and skincare making louder comments on the experiences of being Black.

Adukwei Bulley’s style is creative. The writer continuously explores the sound and shape of her work. White space, strikethroughs, phonetically spelt out words and experimental syntax abound. Often, these express wider ideas about race, identity and politics. In ‘The Ultra-Black Fish’ for example, she explores ideas of colonialism, with “made the discovery” corrected to “came across them by accident.” Having said this, not all of Victoria Adukwei Bulley’s poems feel like statements. Her poems, including those in Quiet, include amongst them a number of simple, minimalistic reflections on the different relationships in her life – and the ordinary moments that make them. What ties Adukwei Bulley’s poems together is their almost introspective feel. Her work is often an exploration of how vast matters – of race, and identity – are experienced daily by individuals. As such, even those simple poems feel meaningful.



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