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A Nation of Poets: Oslo’s House of Literature Will Showcase Somali Talents in May 2017

In 2017, the House of Literature turns ten, and to begin our ten year anniversary, we dedicate the first weekend in May to new Somali literature.

Recently, many has discovered the new wave of young writers, musicians and artists with roots from Somalia, living in other parts of the world. They articulate the experience of straddling different cultures, and the often complex and challenging relationship to the “motherland”. At the same time, they are creating new standards for how to write literature, and carry on their history and culture, they incorporate new themes into their art. Many of these new voices have reached a wide audience, not least has Beyoncé’s cooperation with the poet Warsan Shire added to the attention around writers and poets from the diaspora.

So what does it mean to be Somali today, and how is the new generation influencing the literature? During these Somali days at the House of Literature, these questions will be discussed by invited writers and intellectuals.

Some of the talents that will be featured on May 5-7th are:

Aar Maanta was born in Jijiga, in the border area between Somalia and Ethiopia, and now lives in the UK. Together with his band, he plays afro-hop with personal lyrics inspired by Somali poetry tradition and a musical style mixing hip hop, blues and traditional music from Somalia, Northern Africa and the Middle East. Young Somalis in the UK have called him «the voice of our generation.

Nadifa Mohamed was born in Hargeisa, Somalia, and moved to the UK with her family in 1986. Her two novels Black Mamba and The Orchard of Lost Souls deals with different part of Somali history, and has received wide literary acclaim. She was selected as one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists in 2013.

Ladan Osman was born in Mogadishu, Somalia, and grew up in Ohio, USA. In 2014 her chapbook Ordinary Heaven appeared in Seven new Generation African Poets, and in 2015, she published the full-length poetry collection The Kitchen-Dweller’s Testimony, which won the Sillerman’s First Book Prize.

Farah Gabdon is Somali British and writes and performs poetry with roots in the Somali oral poetry tradition. She is a central name in the new wave of poets and writers in the diaspora, who explores their identity, history and culture through art.

Martin Orwin is from the UK, and has written his PhD on the Somali language. He teaches Somali, and Somali literature and poetry at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. Orwin has translated Somali poetry, and worked closely with several Somali poets, such as Gaariye and Hadraawi.

Safia Aidid is Somali Canadian and is doing her PhD at Harvard about state formation and nationalism in modern North Eastern African history. She is engaged in subjects related to Somali identity, culture and history, and has written for web sites such as The Maandeeq and Africa is a country.

Full program to be released shortly by  The House of Literature

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