“I tried to make a home out of you/But doors lead to trapped doors.”
So goes the beginning of the first interlude for "LEMONADE," Beyoncé's new "visual album" released on April 23rd last year on HBO. While many critics have noted the deeply personal aspect of the hour long special, a rare glimpse into the artist's innermost feelings and thoughts, especially in relation to hubby Jay-Z, some of the most personal language is not hers. It's Warsan Shire's, a Somali-British poet who takes second billing in "LEMONADE's" production credits for 'Film Adaption and Poetry." That's right, her name appears before the directors. Shire's words reframe the entire album, making the tribulations that Queen B calls out the struggles of all women.
How the relationship between the poet and Beyoncé came to be is not known, but "Lemonade" would not be the same without the poet's work.
Here are 7 things to know about the young poet.
1. In 2014 she was named Young Poet Laureate for London. Of the honor Shire has said, “Being Young Poet Laureate for London has been an incredible experience. It has been challenging, humbling and rewarding. I’ve had really beautiful moments connecting with Londoners over the transformative power of poetry. It has been truly inspiring and I’m excited about the way it has informed and accelerated my work as a poet.”
2. She's been working on a full collection of poetry since 2012. It is set to be published this year. In 2011, Shire published “Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth,” a collection of poems. She has published one other pamphlet, "Her Blue Body."
3. She was born in Kenya in 1988 to Somali parents and immigrated to the UK at the age of one. She writes primarily of her experience as an immigrant, but is also deeply focussed on love, the human experience, and telling the stories she sees unfold before her. "Character-driven poetry is important to me," she said.
4. In "LEMONADE" Beyoncé recites adaptations of her poems including: "For Women Who Are Difficult To Love," "The unbearable weight of staying," “How To Wear Your Mother’s Lipstick,”“Dear Moon,” “Grief Has Its Blue Hands In Her Hair,” and “Nail Technician As Palm Reader.”
5. Where does she get her inspiration? Shire usually writes at night, with music and film are crucial to the process. “My writing is always inspired by film,” she told africainwords.com. “If I don’t watch a film, I won’t write. I watch about 10 films a week.”
6. Her name almost seems like foreshadowing for her career. Warsan means ‘good news’ and Shire means ‘to gather in one place.’ Her parents named her after her grandmother of her father's side. Of her name she has said, "It is not easy to pronounce, it takes effort to say correctly and I am absolutely in love with the sound of it and its meaning.”
7. Writer's tip: She uses a Dictophone when recording the experience of her relatives, so that she has authentic and true accounts before turning their stories in poetry.