22 Dec The Sea-Migrations Tahriib by Asha Lul Mohamud Yusuf Reviewed for Mslexia by María Castro Domínguez
The Sea-Migrations (2017) Tahriib by Asha Lul Mohamud Yusuf, translated by Clare Pollard. Reviewed for Mslexia by María Castro Domínguez
Published by Bloodaxe Books. Winner of English Pen Award
Asha Lul Mohamud Yusuf´s poetry collection The Sea-Migrations Tahriib is an exhilirating exploration of Somalia, its culture, its nature, its politics and its people; all conjured by Asha´s shining language creatively translated with an update style by another brilliant poet, Clare Pollard, which brings it much closer to the reader. The original poems and their translation sit side by side allowing us to capture form, space and sound –so essential to poetic meaning- all at once. Both poets make magic together.
What could be a daunting immersion into the exotic unknown for an English reader becomes an emotional ride to Somalia today. Pollard´s enlightening introduction and comment on translating Ahsa´s collection works as a guide preparing us for the journey ahead. We discover a novel vision in first person of Asha´s homeland, which only such a magnificent poet can do.
Somali oral poetry is a historical tradition, and in Asha´s poetry the poem as voice yields to poem as text. Her display of poetical techniques, her artful use of alliterations and the ”gabay,” a form used to express many of the common themes in Somali poetry – praises, dirges, insults, philosophical reflections and satires- suggest a plurality of feelings, particularly those of women.
In “Our Land,” we can perceive a nostalgic longing and hope; the poem consists of many short stanzas which are beautifully restorative and evocative. The reader acquires a panoramic vision “from top to bottom” and “At both ends of the day;” we hear the rain, smell the ripe crimson “dhafaruur” fruit, see the ostrich and antelope basking in beauty and herding youth “chatting without a care.”
Gender specific poems like “Recollection” criticize a patriarchal society where men busy themselves idly chewing “khat” and women suffer, taking over the tasks he´s neglected; besides working together with other poems as a metonymy of the poet´s political landscape
TS Eliot said in his Dante essay that genuine poetry could communicate before it is understood; I feel that Asha´s collection fulfils Eliot´s assertion perfectly. Asha Lul Mohamud Yusuf has forged an imaginative bond between those of us who love language and words, hence poetry.
Stuck with late Christmas shopping, you can buy her book in Bloodaxe Books