Ijeoma Umebinyuo has been lauded as one of Sub-Saharan Africa’s greatest contemporary poets. She is widely popular and active on social media where she shares a lot of her recent work.
Umebinyuo was born in Lagos, Nigeria.
Her short stories and poems have appeared in various publications, including The Stockholm Review of Literature, The Wildness, The Rising Phoenix Review and The MacGuffin, TEDx talk on ‘Dismantling The Culture of Silence’. She has given public readings at both Columbia and Colgate University.
Her poetry focuses on concepts such as “love”, “womanhood”, migration, displacement, depression, and loss. , Umebinyuo told Afroelle magazine that her debut poetry collection, Questions for Ada, is “a collection of narratives on love, colonisation, depression, pain, grief, Diaspora, self-care, heartbreak. Love. A safe place.”
Check out two poems from her debut collection below:
“So, here you are
too foreign for home
too foreign for here.
Never enough for both.”
“Here’s to the security guards who maybe had a degree in another land. Here’s to the manicurist who had to leave her family to come here, painting the nails, scrubbing the feet of strangers. Here’s to the janitors who don’t understand English yet work hard despite it all. Here’s to the fast food workers who work hard to see their family smile. Here’s to the laundry man at the Marriott who told me with the sparkle in his eyes how he was an engineer in Peru. Here’s to the bus driver, the Turkish Sufi who almost danced when I quoted Rumi. Here’s to the harvesters who live in fear of being deported for coming here to open the road for their future generation. Here’s to the taxi drivers from Nigeria, Ghana, Egypt and India who gossip amongst themselves. Here is to them waking up at 4am, calling home to hear the voices of their loved ones. Here is to their children, to the children who despite it all become artists, writers, teachers, doctors, lawyers, activists and rebels. Here’s to international money transfer. For never forgetting home. Here’s to their children who carry the heartbeats of their motherland and even in sleep, speak with pride about their fathers. Keep on.”
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