Momtaza Mehri ‘Bad Diaspora Poems’ Book Launch and Talk

Thursday 29 June

Young Poet Laureate Momtaza Mehri hosts a gathering and reading of her tender, searing and satirical debut poetry collection Bad Diaspora Poems

Momtaza Mehri is a Somali-British poet and independent researcher working across criticism, translation, anti-disciplinary research practices, education, and radio. She is a former Young People’s Poet Laureate for London and Frontier-Antioch Fellow at Antioch University (Los Angeles). Her writing has appeared in the likes of POETRY, Granta, Vogue, The Guardian, Bidoun, and The White Review. A former Columnist-in-Residence at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s Open Space, she has also completed residencies at St. Paul’s Cathedral and the British Library.

The definition of diaspora is the dispersion of any people from their original homeland. But what does it mean to write diaspora poetry? Bad Diaspora Poems traces the ripples of movement and displacement to and from the Horn of Africa during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, connecting transnational and intergenerational stories of loss and life-altering intimacy across Mogadishu, Cairo, Damascus, Naples, Tunis, and London. Cities to inherit, to “love from a burning distance”, to flee, to reconverge, to rest in, if even momentarily. Cities in which to start again and again, from the ashes, anew. We arrive at the present day, where these inherited histories and silences endure across generations. Mixing her own family history with the history and stories of many others, Bad Diaspora Poems confronts the ambivalent nature of speaking for those who have been left behind. We meet the poet, the immigrant, the exile, the refugee, the runaway, the working class artist, the translator, and the diaspora kid attempting to transcend their clichéd angst. Taking the form of lyric, prose, erasures and text messages and taking place in living rooms and marketplaces, on buses and balconies, on transatlantic journeys and online, these are many-tongued poems defined by the aches and joys of our diasporic age.

As part of Shubbak Festival 2023

The Our Shared Heritage Talks series has been made possible with The National Lottery Heritage Fund

The evening is a part of Grand Junction’s Our Shared Heritage talks programme, which explores the late Victorian period, when St Mary Magdalene’s Church was built, from different and diverse perspectives.

Our Shared Heritage celebrates the part that Black, Arab, and Asian people and cultures have played in London’s history. See the other speakers that are taking part in the programme here.

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