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Poetry with Warda Yassin and Guests review by Gabriella Ingamells

Written by: Gabriella Ingamells

On Tuesday 15th of October I had the pleasure of attending Mixing Roots, an Off the Shelf
event. The event – a poetry performance by Warda Yassin and guests – was centred around
the celebration of young women with each poem focusing on a different aspect of their lives.
Thus, producing a community feel throughout the event. This was clear from the moment you
walked into the Israac Centre as Warda greeted each attendee with a smile – a sign to say,
‘everyone is welcome here’.

The poetry commenced with two beautiful poems from Warda and a guest speaker including
one about the right to education, stating that “education is freedom”. I was particularly
interested by the young girls who had participated in the Mixing Roots writing project. Aided
by constant words of encouragement from Warda such as, “you’ve got this” and “that was
beautiful”, each young poet took to the front of the hall to read aloud their work. One of the
poems that stood out to me was ‘All the Places I See Happiness’ by Zainab Barrud. With
phrases including “you see confidence, self-love and beauty in hijab – that is happiness”, the
poem was beautiful and moving as she discussed how happiness was not always in the most
obvious places. Furthermore, Zainab also started her reading by defining Somali words she
used within the poem, such as Eedo meaning paternal aunt. This emphasised the community
feel of the event as it facilitated the inclusivity because it meant everyone could understand
what was said. Moreover, another poem that I enjoyed was Hana Ali’s ‘Ambition’. One line
that stuck with me was “like emerging sunflowers in a drought – ambition”. The imagery that
this brings about is powerful since in its discussion of ambition, the uplifting line becomes
motivational.

I really admire Warda for putting together the Mixing Roots anthology, as well as each
woman that took part in order to create such a wonderful performance and publication. The
event was encompassed by the idea of community and female empowerment, celebrating the
culture and talent of the young women which was a beautiful thing to witness.

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