Lemonade, Beyoncé’s new “visual album,” released on April 23 in tandem with a special on HBO that featured 12 songs, is interspersed with words written by Somali-British poet Warsan Shire. Beyoncé’s angry lyrics and accusations of infidelity against husband Jay-Z have caused a social media storm, but much of the fire of the album can be attributed to the words of Shire, a 27-year-old born in Kenya to Somali parents, and Young Poet Laureate for London in 2014. Shire takes second billing in the album’s production credits for ‘Film Adaptation and Poetry’ — ahead even of the directors — and deservedly so. Some of the album’s most powerful lines are adapted from Shire’s poems: “For Women Who Are Difficult to Love,” “The unbearable weight of staying (the end of the relationship),” and “Nail Technician As Palm Reader.”
A poem Shire wrote in defense of those displaced by the refugee crisis, “Home,” was widely shared in 2015. The poem was based on an earlier work written following her 2009 visit to the abandoned Somali Embassy in Rome, which had been occupied by a group of young refugees. The night before Shire visited, a young Somali jumped off the roof to his death. Shire’s debut collection is set to be published at the end of 2016.
Read the full story at BBC News.