Monday, June 24, 2013

Poet of the week: Ismail Mohamed

What is your name? Where do you live; where do you consider home? 

My name is Ismail Mohamed and I am 22 years old. I currently live in a town called Umeå, which is located in the northern part of Sweden. But I was raised in Gothenburg. A hard question seeing as how I left Somalia at the age of 2 , so I would say that my heart is in Somalia but my body is in Sweden , that's sounds fair right ? Lol. 

Do you remember the first time you wrote a poem and what was it about? Who was the first person you shared it with?

The first time I wrote a poem was when I was 19 years old. I read a book by Scott Peterson titled Me against my Brother. The book was about conflicts in East Africa and how countrymen in Sudan, Rwanda and Somalia killed each other . It explains the main cause of murder amongst brothers in these countries . I remember reading the book and drawing inspiration from it ,I even named my first poem after the book. The poem is about two brothers named Osman and Dahir who have the same mother but different fathers. They both come from different tribes so when the War comes they end up in a conflict. I actually uploaded the poem directly to this page. 

The themes prominent in your poems are often related to politics and Africa;what inspires you to explore these two themes in most of your poems?

 I try to write about subjects I find important or relevant, whether it be about Africa or the revolution in Chile or Malcolm X. Subjects that have shaped history and the world we live in. I read a lot and try to collect as much information about these ''highlights'' in history and incorporate them into my poems. I especially read about Africa and its history because a believe its history has been distorted and we don't receive the whole truth. 

I have noticed a pattern with your writing - you generally take long breaks between poems - what causes this? Do you just stop writing or life happens ;)

Lol , you have been very observant. It depends on whether or not I feel I have something to write about. Most of the things I care about I have already written down and submitted to this page . I would almost say that I have reached my limit as a ''poet''.

Where do you seek your inspiration for your poems after a long gap of not not writing?

It depends , I don't have to be in a certain mood or a certain place to be inspired.  

What is your writing process like? Do you edit a lot? Do you freestyle?

Sometimes it takes me hours to write a poem while on different occasions I can be done in a couple of minutes. I always try to make the last word in each sentence rhyme so it takes awhile. 

Who are some of your favorite poets?

Don't really have a favorite poet but my favorite poem is Rudyard Kipling's poem If. 

What advice do you have for aspiring poets? Any word of advice for closet poets?

I still don't consider myself a poet so if anything I would say seek inspiration and write it down.

Somalia and Somalia

My brothers Somalia and Somalia started fighting in the living room
They fought all night
They were both are bleeding
They were both are in pain
But they were determined not to give up
Everyone was watching to see who will win
Everyone took sides
I bet that Somalia will win
He bet that Somalia will win
They both keep fighting
The tv broke, then the couch, then the table
The mirror was broken
Somalia went through the window
It looked like Somalia will win
Then Somalia brought a bomb to blow up the roof
Then Somalia brought another bomb
They fought for days, months, years
Until one day the house was on the ground
They both were missing limbs with many scars
Everyone left them
Until one day they died on the broken stones

Sindiya Darman
Copyright © 2013

Monday, June 17, 2013

Poet of the week: Nimo Hussein

Would you please introduce yourself to the readers? 

My name is Nimo Hussein, and I am a British Somali. I was actually born in Hargeisa but raised in London by my birth mother's sister- who is also my mother- the familial joys of being Somali . I studied History as my BA and MA with research focusing on gender in African societies. I like how old things teach us about new things. I especially love to understand how gender constructs inform who we think we have to be.

Do you remember the first time you wrote a poem and what was it about? Who was the first person you shared it with?

I was 9 years old the very first time I wrote a poem for school. I was surprised to have won a competition and was presented an award by our mayor. All for a very cringey poem about racism ('Racism is bad, it's much more than sad, so don't do this it's totally mad'- my brain refuses to remember the rest as there's only so much embarrassment I can take.)

Your poems speak on variety of topics but one theme that you have consistently and passionately written about is women. You have written about the issue of FGM, about Somali women, about Somali mothers, etc --- what inspires this?

Being a woman is a very big part of who I was taught to be. Much of the conditions of joy and despair of Somalis is tied very closely to womanhood and femininity and how that instructs the idea, and assertion, of masculinity. For me FGM is one of the most important topic for Somalis to discuss and ultimately eradicate. Female Genital Mutilation is not about religion, or history, or culture. It is about making men feel like men. We stand before God Himself and tell Him that He didn't do a good enough job on the bodies of women; that it is up to us to fix His design. And for that little girls die, and mothers die in childbirth and women dread their wedding night and live their entire lives being ripped, cut, sewn, ripped, cut, sewn. This isn't something our elders did that we're getting rid of. In Britain we have 20,000 girls at risk every year, many of whom are Somali. This is a real problem and needs to be talked about. There is a war on the bodies of little girls and we really can't expect a positive nation to spring from such a disgusting act.

I do try not only to challenge however, but also to celebrate, for there is so much resilience and power in Somali womanhood. My mother and father have very different accounts of what life was like when the war started in Hargeisa and they had to flee to Ethiopia. My father through no fault of his own was demoralized, dejected. My mother tells of thinking every single member of her family was murdered but realizing that at the age of 18 years old with only one biological son, she was responsible for the lives of her sibling's children. She would get up before fajr prayer in the camp and make tea (straining the dirty water with a head wrap) and laxoox to sell. This became her business, with which she saved enough money to save the lives of 15 of us. The very fact I am alive is testimony to the strength and the power of Somali mothers. This is why Somali women are a central theme in my writing. In the midst of all the reports of famine and war and disease and war and pirates and war and clans and war, the story of that soldier in the middle holding it all together is never really covered. I am trying to cover it.

what do you do when you go into a dry spell of some sort or how do you write another piece when you have been away from it for some timeDo you sit and think through every word of every stanza or do you just write freely and allow the words to flow?

Writing has really always been something I do, never something that I think. I don't really know where it's going to end up when I first start writing. Many times, I am embarrassed of the product but I always use the same method. I just write. I write a lot that I never share. Some poems and stories, some plots and characters are really about healing myself and I am not yet brave enough to heal with an audience. So I share the work that is general; that is about topics and things in my head and sometimes my heart, but never my fears or heartbreaks. Not yet. I haven't written any poems for a little while and it is always so hard for me to get back into the swing of it when I've left so many words unwritten. But with my dry spells, I can't force myself out of them. The writing will happen. The only sad part is perhaps the stories I neglected to tell in my absence might have been the most needed. I just haven't yet learned how to master myself and my craft to make it work when I am not in the mood. 

Who are some of your favorite poets?

One of my favourite poets right now is the Def Poet StaceyAnn Chin. I don't always agree with everything she says but I believe in the power of her thoughts in art. She has passion and is a real social activist. You have to want to change something with your work and she is the embodiment of a revolution waiting in the wings.

But the all time greatest poet in my opinion is Hadrawi- the present occupant of the throne of the Nation of Poets. My parents always recited Hadrawi growing up, and his theme of nationalism and patriotism allowed me to grow up with a sense of pride in my Somaliness, even when it might not necessarily have been considered the 'cool' thing to be. Hats off to Maxahmed Ibrahim Warsame for an unrivaled talent. MashaAllah.

What advice do you have for aspiring poets? Any word of advice for closet poets?

My advice to closet poets is mainly that they may never know who might be healed by their work. It is difficult to understand the power of your words in someone else's life when you don't believe in that power yourself. But think, hasn't someone else's words touched you deeply? or given you clarity? or made you understand the world, or yourself, a bit better? If they can and have, why can't you? Having said that, some work could be about understanding yourself, and for that maybe you don't want, or need to share. That's ok too. But always write without fear.

Imagine.. Just imagine!

Imagine.. Just imagine for a second life entangled in hopelessness. 

Flickering lights beaming thru the thickness of darkness.

Imagine.. Just imagine for a second a growl of a hungry tummy.

Flinching thru the pains and numbing the mind that's already grumpy.

Imagine.. Just imagine for a second a faint scream that whistles for help.

Oh lord the mother can't squeeze another drop for a single gulp.

Imagine... Just imagine for a second ugly souls ping ponging for power.

While a child lifeless body grasping for air in their last dying hour.

Imagine.. Just imagine for a second a clenched fist of a dying mother.

So tight and bearing the stress of a cracked leather.

Imagine.. Just imagine for a second hunger Instagraming our mama's nudity.

A life shaped and paved by the sword we lay through our own stupidity.

Imagine.. Just imagine for a second a mind boggled in corruption and gamed in shame.

Narrow and shallow vision that'll hold us back from fame.

Imagine.. Just imagine!

Nephew Hamza
Copyright ©2013

Saturday, June 15, 2013

But we can only change things from the inside

I pack my bags again this weekend; I have always enjoyed traveling because of one important factor. It’s never been about the bustling airports or the usual hype that comes with such a journey. On the contrary the whole business of travelling in today’s heightened security checks has been somewhat unpleasant to me. I seem to fit all the wrong descriptions, leading to my extra scrutiny. At first I used to be offended, eventually I accepted that in many ways it ended up giving me peace of mind. Traveling has been one of the biggest self-educational mediums in my life. To see and witness different cultures and places so distinctive to mine has by far trumped any other experience in my life.

This weekend I travel back to London after almost 10 months in Africa, this journey like all others challenged my way of contemplation on different aspects. The conclusion thus far riddled my senses; I finally understood how naïve my peers and I have been for so long. Today without hesitation I can wholeheartedly say that over 80% of our misfortunes in the motherland are self-inflicted.  

Our generation has become bloated with self worth and the constant belief that we are entitled to the world and everything in it. Because we were fortunate to be in a time when education and wealth was abundant.  We blame the leadership of our continent, we blame the colonialist, we blame the rich, and we blame the poor. We would blame the sun if we could but we never look to ourselves as being instrumental in the difficulties.

Every young African educated or not has a responsibility to this continent. It seems that we have narrowed our capabilities by wanting to either work in government or in non-governmental organisations. Now if you don’t see the hypocrisy in that then apologises.  I must have heard too many “ but we can only change things from the inside”. Let us be frank, working in the above-mentioned organisations is not the issue, the problem lies with firstly the reasons behind the decision to take up such employment. Secondly in order for Africa to grow and become a place that shares its blessings with all of its indigenous inhabitants, we must diversify our efforts.

I am yet to come across an African of my generation who is thinking about industry, innovations in medicine or other important sectors. I have on the other hand met a number of young entrepreneurs, who have really inspired me in my own endeavours. This is what we need, the spirit to tackle our own shortcomings using our own instruments of change.

I would like to add just a little dimension, in case you agree with me. We are all fully aware of the defects of capitalism. Nevertheless it is a means of creating wealth, which is pivotal to any prescribed change we are to embark on. I have always maintained that it is possible to create prosperity in such a way that the by-products of these activities enhance the lives of the local communities. In essence, a social conscious form of capitalism, Unique to Africa by Africans.  It is more than just a possibility it is a necessity.

We can no longer afford to be held ransom by the impulses of international donors, or poverty enforcing multinationals. We can no longer blame dinosaur age political mentality. What we can do is come together and really ask ourselves serious questions and ponder deeply on the answers. To try is to increase the possibilities of success and that time has come.  

Hamza M.O Egal © copyright 2013 all rights reserved.

Ode to my papa

Its been 24 years
When my tears turned to fears
I was 2 he left me fatherless
Passed time with essays and tests
Never was athletic
I have been left to fend alone ever since i was fifteen
Washing cars as a teen
I could have turned into a fiend
Instead i turned into the path of academics
Smoking literature with indians
Already 26 now
Skirts , flirts all done for a laugh now
Feeling so bitter
Maybe i should have learnt to smoke that weed
God bless for that burning bush
That kush
If it wasnt for my bronchitis
No homies to tell me how tight it is
Evil is what you make it
And i know my feelings in a disarray
Cold lonely and afraid

My therapist
My unborn babies
These succubus ladies
Wheres that exit door
Are my words too hardcore
See my blood spraying on the floor
Mayday mayday
On my 22nd birthday
I thought i saw izrael that monday
Visionary dreams
Late night asthmatic heaves
Loss of sleep
Et tu hyder?
tu quoque mortem

I will forget about this on the morrow
These Pains guilt and sorrow

Hyder Noor
Copyright ©2013

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

My Passion

For me, writing is an escape from reality
A chance for me to forget everything that’s happening around me
The more I seem to write,
The more emotions I’m able to pour out.
The more I get rid of certain emotions,
I’m also able to pick myself up.
Writing has helped me open up more,
It has also helped me to confront a lot of things I couldn’t before.
Sometimes, I can be lost of words,
And also not being able to write,
For me, those are the worst days I know of,
Coz I feel as if my passion has ran out.
Writing is not only about escaping from my reality,
But it is also getting a chance to save someone from theirs too.
When life gets tough
And someone seems lost
I try to impact their lives with my writings.
Writing is an opportunity for me to explore my feelings, thoughts and dreams.
And opportunities for me to make someone else believe, in these too. 

Ayanii Mohamed
Copyright © 2013

The Beach

Love is strange
 in that land
Where the moon
Comes closer and closer
Dancing for life
Seducing the earth
Spreading on her a pearly blue sheet
Flowing along the curves
Giving flavor to the details
A flavor I never tasted
Despite that the night
Was exotic and wild like you luv
Despite that the air was laden With desires like me luv
I sat there watching !
Drawing on the sand what should have happened !
Listening to the beats as they speed up
asking the moon about his secret
How he always gets ur attention and I don't !
No answer ! Just a silence that covers you with
more attractive mystery is what i get 
c'mon moon
Is he
Or simply dazzled!
Who knows !
Who cares ?!
i will still ask !
and someday the shores 
will harbor me again 

Ismail A. Ali
Copyright © 2013

Friday, June 7, 2013


The walls are crumbling,
 The city is burning.
 What will you do?
Only freedom can quench
 The fires of oppression
Is this not a warning?
Can you not heed Alexandria?
The city was on fire
and yet the people stood at the centre of the flame.
Can you not see?
The roads won't betray them
These are their streets.
 Can't you hear freedom calling?
 Through the crumbling walls?
 Through the flames?
 Through the anger?
 Through the poverty and the pain?
Alexandria is alive
 though once you tried to kill her

Nimo Hussein
Copyright © 2013

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Poet of the week: Asha Ali

Would you please introduce yourself to the readers?

My name is Asha Ali, I currently live in London  but my heart and soul reside in a coastal city of Somalia.
I hope someday soon that i will be able to relocate to Somalia and write under a tree somewhere. Although I am grateful for the privilege of living in the west, home is always where the heart is.

When did you first start writing poetry and was there any particular incidents in your life that inspired you to write?

I first started writing at the age of 15 and most of my poems were about love, or what i perceived it to be at that age. I was feeling many emotions which didn't seem to make any sense to me; writing became a form of liberation.

What does "being creative" mean to you?

Creativity to me means being unique in your approach to channel information, in a world where we are told what and how to think its important to maintain the strength to keep your identity. 

What do you try to communicate with your poetry?

I try to communicate issues that I am passionate about, there are so many ugly truths in the world which we can't change.  speaking about these issues is empowering.

What do you do when you go into a dry spell of some sort or how do you write another piece when you have been away from it for some time? Do you sit and think through every word of every stanza or do you just write freely and allow the words to flow?

I find  that poetry comes to me when I am not completely focused, I might be sitting on a bus and the best verses come to my head. There are times that I want to write about something but the words do not flow the way i want, in that instance I take a leave it and I am bound to find inspiration elsewhere.

Who are some of your favorite poets?
To be honest i do not  have any because I do not read the works of poets.

What advice do you have for aspiring poets? Any word of advice for closet poets?
Let your heart do the writing and let go of any fear.

Anything else you would like to share?
Sometimes we may be reluctant to speak about certain issues for fear of alienation, but if you hold back from speaking the truth you are selling yourself short.

Noble Clan Leader

Noblesse oblige, one must act to his position with honorable behavior, privilege entails to responsibility, tribes and clans with no sense of nobility, no sense of structure, with Darod, and  Dir, Hawiya, and Isaaq, I see no difference, nationality Somali, ethnically Somali, language Somali, and religion............. Islam, similar yet far from brotherly, sun rises on cold dead bodies, sets on hungry malnutrition children, torn for two decades, running from a past that never fades, future looks grim, hate is a sin, we water and let grow in our young,  my tribe will be the death of a man, With wealth comes power, with power comes prestige, with prestige comes responsibility, we are indeed from nobles, so noblesse oblige

Ayan Abdi
Copyright © 2013

Land of the Poets

Born from the land of poets
where the word is a weapon
a place for both a mullah and the meek

Yet in this time the once proud has lost the rhyme
Expression is a must yet few can speak
Those who lead are the epitome of the weak

Now we destroyed the cities and hope is turn 
Smoke pollutes the air and the wise has gone

Lord send me from this shame for I have hurt, don’t forget me in the hour of pain

Zero to nothing negative to absolute despair
Mogadishu is a far dream the blood pours but who cares
We await a messiah the mehdi who will lead us to our land
The land of the horn our fathers home
where a man is appreciated and a woman is loved.

Somalia I will love you till the end, the tears in my eyes I have yet to comprehend

Abdirizaq Hassan
Copyright © 2013

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2.    Poems by non-Somalis are occasionally posted on the condition that the poems are about the Soomaal people specifically and the Africa in general. I want to make it clear that TNP welcomes everyone regardless of how one identifies to join this space, take part in dialogue generated here and be part of this group.

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Halima Ahmed