Two great African Poets you should know

Two great African Poets you should know
Poetry is considered as one of the most universal and important vehicles of human expression as it encapsulates various human experiences in an understandable and well-documented manner.

Africa is rich in literature and poetry, and here’s a list of contemporary African poets that you should know:

Warsan Shire


Warsan Shire is a Kenyan-born Somali poet and writer who is based in London. She is popularly known for her poetry being adapted into Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” album. Her work explores the topics of gender, war, sex, and cultural assumptions. Her body of work includes Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth, released in 2011, Her Blue Body and Our Men Do Not Belong to Us, both released in 2015.

She is passionate about character-driven poetry that tells the stories of people, especially immigrants and refugees who are often portrayed as victims or martyrs, without their human experience being captured. In 2014, she was named the first Young Poet Laureate for London and chosen as poet-in-residence for Queensland, Australia.

Safia Elhillo


Safia Elhillo is a Sudanese poet who grew up in Washington D.C. She’s an NYU graduate and is a Pushcart Prize nominee, co-winner of the 2015 Brunel University African Poetry Prize, and winner of the 2016 Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets. She has appeared in several journals and anthologies including “The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop,” and her work has been translated into Arabic, Japanese, Estonian, and Greek.

She was a founding member of Slam NYU, the 2012 and 2013 national collegiate championship team, and was a three-time member and former coach of the DC Youth Slam Poetry team. She is currently a teaching artist with Split This Rock.


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