Ever since Beyoncé's phenomenal visual album Lemonade dropped, the name of poet Warsan Shire has been on everybody's lips. The incredibly talented Somali-British poet has had a cult following for quite some time — but now she's officially in the Beyhive, everyone wants a piece of the action. If Warsan Shire's got something to say, we want to hear it.
Shire's poetry is about loneliness and belonging, about family and ancestry, about sadness and intimacy. Beyoncé borrowed Shire's words to talk about heartache and self-reflection, but what does she have to say about love? While much of her poetry is very sad, and she has some fantastically fierce poetry about being single, Shire has actually written some truly beautiful lines about falling in love, too.
One of the best things about Shire's poetry is that it's wonderfully feminist. Shire's not the type of woman to lose herself to a man; in fact, she illustrated just how powerful she thinks women should be when she wrote one of my favorite quotations: "give your daughters names that command the full use of the tongue." Women in Shire's poetry are complete; they are too whole to be swallowed up into the shared identity that love poetry often talks about; they command your full attention all by themselves. So when they fall in love, it's complicated and intense; it's very raw, and it's very beautiful.
1. "With you, intimacy colours my voice./Even 'hello' sounds like 'come here'."
2. "we laugh together and i lean into you and that's a kind of love"
3. "You are terrifying and strange and beautiful, someone not everyone knows how to love."
— "for women who are difficult to love"
4. "He knows all of my secrets and still wants to kiss me."
— "34 Excuses for Why We Failed at Love"
5. "Was it a long journey?/Did it take you long to find me?/You're here now,/welcome home."
— "Welcome Home"
Image: Serpentine Galleries/YouTube