'Declaiming this poem, a gabay, I alliterate in D to start debate'
Although Asha Lul Mohamud Yusuf has lived in exile in the UK for 20 years, she is fast emerging as one of the most outstanding Somali poets, as well as a powerful woman poet in a literary tradition still largely dominated by men. She is a master of the major Somali poetic forms, including the prestigious gabay, by which she presents compelling arguments with astonishing feats of alliteration. The key to her international popularity is in her spirit and message: her poems are classical in construction but they are unmistakeably contemporary, and they engage passionately with the themes of war and displacement which have touched the lives of an entire generation of Somalis.
The mesmerising poems in this landmark collection are brought to life in English by award-winning Bloodaxe poet Clare Pollard.
Somali-English dual language edition
‘Sometimes a book reminds us of poetry’s real electric force in the world. Yusuf is a brilliant young Somali poet living in exile in London, who takes ‘history’s point/to ink a beautiful literature.’… Translated into lapel-grabbing alliterative verse by Clare Pollard, these piercingly direct poems throw open a window onto a war-torn country and its wretchedly displaced people.’ – Jeremy Noel-Tod, choosing The Sea-Migrations as his Poetry Book of the Year in The Sunday Times
‘Performance poetry often dies on the page. But the work of Somalian poet Asha Lul Mohamud Yusuf is an exception, strengthened by a highly craft-conscious, perhaps troubadour-like, oral culture. Though the rhetoric is impassioned and the diction down-to-earth, there are no simplistic politics lectures in her dual-language, Somali-English collection, The Sea-Migrations: Tahriib… One of the tools of classical Somali poetry, I’ve learned, is alliteration, and Pollard has the perfect balance, not too heavy and not inaudibly subtle…’ – Carol Rumens, The Observer (Poetry Books of the Year)
'The Sea-Migrations is a narratively fertile collection that confronts the silences of national traumas. In these poems, grief announces itself. Yusuf, however, is never exploitative or gratuitous in her depiction of the violence of refugee life. Her verses are imbued with an unswerving responsibility to honour the suffering of her people. Hers is an important voice that challenges superficial representations of refugees and their inner lives. As a member of a community of exiled writers based in Britain, Yusuf is contributing to a tradition that extends far beyond the Horn of Africa. The Sea-Migrations is a compelling addition to the growing canon of diasporic Somali voices as well as a powerful reminder that exile is something generations of refugees carry with them, whether they want to or not.' - Momtaza Mehri, Poetry London
‘Working through traditional forms to convey a modern message, UK-based Somali poet Asha Lul Mohamud Yusuf proves yet again in this (her first book and a dual-language edition) that women are the emerging voice of poetic movements around the world. Her masterful use of alliteration and detailed scene-painting make this English PEN Award–winning poet a force to be reckoned with and the collection an enthralling read.’ – World Literature Today
Co-published with the Poetry Translation Centre
The Poetry Translation Centre translates, publishes and tours contemporary poets from Africa, Asia and Latin America. Through innovative collaborations between international poets and English-language poets, the PTC aims to introduce new audiences to poetry from around the world and celebrate the diverse communities who live in the UK.