Inside "Teaching My Mother How To Give Birth"

Inside "Teaching My Mother How To Give Birth"

Ladies, this is a must read!
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Maya Angelou once said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” Warsan Shire eloquently brings readers into her reality, filled with contradictions and conflict, and inspires others to do the same with their story.

"Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth" by Kenyan-born Somali poet Warsan Shire captures the story of every woman. From yearning to self-identity and all those in between, she lays out the path for her reader to expel her demons and find redemption. Though the title might sound audacious, Shire does not mean any disrespect or bear any hatred towards her mother. Shire hopes in telling her mother how to give birth, she will find a greater purpose within herself – she is more than what her religion or ethnicity says she is.

Shire does not spare any details, her voice flies unto the page with raw emotion. In “Your Mother’s First Kiss,” the first line she writes goes “The first boy to ever kiss your mother later raped women when the war broke out.” If she is not writing intriguing first liners, she is wrapping her reader around one of her main themes: feminine virtue or the lack thereof.

In “Beauty," Shire writes about her promiscuous sister, who has an affair with her neighbor’s husband. “It’s 4 a.m and she winks at me, bending over the sink / her small breasts bruised from sucking / she smiles, pops her gun before saying / boys are haram, don’t ever forget that.” Though Shire’s older sister is being loose, she gives her young sister advice on how to keep her innocence (ironically) by telling her that boys are forbidden, but the younger sister pays no mind because everything that leaves her older sister’s mouth “sounds like sex.”

“Birds” finds the reader mulling over the issue of virginity – how sacred men make it seem and how some women hold it in little regard. “Sofia used pigeon blood on her wedding night / next day over the phone, she told me / how her husband smiled when he saw the sheets / that he gathered them under his nose / closed his eyes and dragged his tongue over the stain.” The husband is unaware that he was tricked but he praises her anyway, calling her pure and chaste. Shire shows how important men from her country find chastity to be; even men in the 21st century feel themselves swell with pride when they get to be the first one to deflower their lover.

What Shire does best is understand the identity of the women in her life. The women are bound by the age old order of oppression. In “The Kitchen,” the woman is portrayed as weak, letting her husband have sex with her even when she is knowledgeable about his affair. The wife comes to terms with her husband’s infidelity with “sweet mangoes and sugared lemon / he had forgotten the way you taste / sour dough and cumin / but she cannot make him eat, like you.”

She continues on the next page with “Fire,” which felt like a fitting sequel to “The Kitchen." The woman gets a phone call from her mother that does not seem like something a mother would say. “What do you mean he hit you? / your father hit me all the time / but I never left him / He pays the bills / and he comes home at night / what more do you want?” Shire drives the point home that women in her culture would rather suffer the hand that they are dealt instead of making life better for themselves.

In this collection of poems, men are shameful, deceitful, and downright dirty. “When We Last Saw Your Father” is about a father who is staring at the hospital building, looking at all the lighted windows wondering which one of those rooms bares his mistake. The men hold no significance to Shire, if anything, they are the catalyst of why the women act the way they do. The men make the women disregard themselves and pass onto their daughters that the same must be done if they want to keep a man.

Warsan will do the opposite, as she writes in “In Love and In War." Instead of making sure her daughter fits into societies’ barriers, she says “To my daughter I will say / ‘when the men come, set yourself on fire’." Much like the woman did in the “Fire” poem, Warsan Shire wants her daughter to kill herself first before she lets a man take advantage of her. For Shire, that is the bigger lesson to be taught, the lesson that her mother could never understand and teach her own daughter.

Shire paints these traumatic and sensual experiences for the reader with finesse and vigor. This is not just her story; this is the story of others who will forever be in silence. Warsan Shire describes herself as a female activist; to her, it is important to nurture a young woman into being strong about her beliefs and herself. She wrote this book for those that do not have that mother, aunt, or sister in their lives telling them to be great without apology.

Cover Image Credit: toallthebooksivereadbefore.wordpress.com

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13 Reasons Why I'll Defend T-Swift Until The Day I Die

Taylor Swift deserves your respect and appreciation.
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Whether you like her or not, Taylor Swift has done some really amazing things. As someone who has been a "Swiftie" for the past 9 years, I've witness the highest of highs and lowest of the lows that a fandom could ever go through. She follows me on Tumblr, I listen to her music and I understand that she's not perfect. She's made mistakes and she can be problematic at times, but she's human. Just like you.

You are no better than her so why should her human errors completely disregard all the good she's done for the world?

I'm not going to deny that some of these acts were probably created in the name of PR, but no matter what she does people still deem her as a villain, so why does it matter what the original motive is anyway? She still puts the time and effort into it.

I mean, come on:

1. She goes out of her way to meet her fans.

Her concerts, an award show, even Target...no place is exempt. If Taylor wants to meet you...she will meet you. You don't really have a choice.

2. And talks to them on social media

I could write an entire article about all of the times she has liked my own personal posts, the times she personally messaged her fans going through difficult times. She regularly stalks her fans on social media and can call them out by name in a crowd. Her personal connection is unique with each and every fan she meets.

3. She stood up for undermined musicians.

All anyone could talk about was her being "greedy" and "selfish." But they missed the point. It is unfair for anyone to not be fairly compensated, and the music industry excels at this. So, she made a stance and she used her privilege to bring awareness to the fact that so many artists an producers are extremely underpaid by streaming services, like Spotify or Apple Music.

4. She holds the record for the number of times the word "ass" was said in a courtroom.

When she went to Federal Court in Colorado after she was sexually assaulted by David Mueller - a radio DJ. The number of times she said it was never released to my knowledge but she was quoted in the article saying "I'm told it was the most amount of time the word 'ass' has ever been said in Colorado Federal Court."

5. She wrote a song about a little boy who died from cancer.

His name was Ronan. He was four. And she credited his mother as a co-writer on the song, because of her blog rockstarronnan.com.

6. She personally wrapped and sent her fans Christmas AND Valentine's Day presents.


She probably put thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours but she personally hand-wrote cards and little notes for each fan, sent them things like blankets, high-end makeup, and clothes that she picked out herself. And then she took the time to watch their reactions and posted about it on social media.

7. She successfully crossed 3 genres in one year.

2016 was the year of "I Don't Wanna Live Forever," "This Is What You Came For" and "Better Man." Pop, EDM, and country. She wrote them all. Artists don't just do that, let alone the fact that she was on a "break."

8. Where iTunes accidentally released a track off 1989 by mistake.

It wasn't a track. It was seven seconds of static noise... and it still went number one. Please tell me that's not intriguing or worth your time to say something like, "Wow!"

9. Four of her six albums sold over 1 million copies in their first week.

It was extremely difficult for an artist or band to do this without streaming, and she managed to do it not once, or twice, but four times.

10. She attended a fan's bridal shower.

Her name is Gena, she's a loving and dedicated fan whose been there since the beginning of Taylor's career. She presented her with the Billboard's Women of the Year award in 2014, she's gone to millions of shows. Taylor even went out of her way to reschedule a prior event in order to be there on this day for her, as stated in a Seth Meyer's interview. There's a video about the event here.

11. She symbolically adopted a seagull and named him George Washington.

He lives at her Rhode Island home, and every time the 4th of July rolls around, and she throws her annual party, someone asks Taylor how he's doing. We love George Washington.

12. She used her own heartbeat on a song.

That beat in "Wildest Dreams"... yeah. That's her heartbeat. She recorded her own heartbeat. She puts every ounce of her heart into her music... literally.

13. She has literally brought hundreds of fans into each of her homes.

Rhode Island, Nashville, New York, and Beverly Hills. Also her hotel room in London. She held these parties called "Secret Sessions," where she would invite her fans (roughly 200 people each time) into her homes and play them the album before it was released. Also, she invited a fan, Sophie, over for the two of them to personally celebrate Valentine's Day together.

No other celebrity in the history of the world has ever even thought about that- it's a massive breach of privacy. But, Taylor has such a close connection with her fans that she is willing to do that.

This isn't a plea to get you to like her music, or even a plea to get you to like her. I'm not going to grovel at your feet and force you to become a fan. But, at the very least, she deserves your appreciation for these 13 things, because they are unique, special and because this is only a fraction of the wondrous talent she has given to the world.

This list doesn't even include all of the money she has donated to various charities or the times that she surprises fans at her home. I didn't even include the time she gave a fan $90 for Chipotle or the time she gave a fan $1,989 to help her pay off student loans. Or the personal flowers and cards that get sent out. I didn't even include the 2011 Gillette Stadium show. Or all the celebrities she invites to perform on her stage during shows.

No other celebrity would, or has, ever gone to the lengths that she has for her fans. To surprise them, admire them, help them and love them.

So, suck it.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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Lana Del Rey Dazzles Crowd In Antwerp

Del Rey is a force to be reckoned with.
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Lana del Rey is unique in what she does, and she does it oh so well. She does not do a lot of tours, and when she does she usually skips Europe altogether. But finally, this time she brought the 'La To The Moon Tour' to Europe, even though there were not many stops. I had the honor to see her live last Tuesday, in Antwerp, Belgium.

Del Rey has a presence on stage and that is why she really got the crowd going. It was clear she wanted the show to be energetic and different from what she Always does. She changed up the setlist during the show and did some audience requests, she even did some songs that she hadn't done before on the tour. It was a blast.

Del Rey does not do fake. When she just wasn't feeling like for a moment, she didn't. When she didn't feel a song that was next on the setlist, she did another one. Some may find it annoying, but she brings it in a way that it is just fine.

Her vocals were amazing. She sounds even better than the Original recordings and the ones that say she ain't no good live, clearly have no ears. Ofcourse, she has had some bad performances in the past, but who hasn't.

The setlist was a nice mix of all her albums. It included classics as 'Born To Die', 'Blue Jeans', 'Summertime Sadness', 'Ride' and 'National Anthem'. Also 'Ultraviolence' and 'West Coast' came by. Of course the songs from her newest record, 'Lust for Life', and from her third album 'Honeymoon'. She ended the evening with 'Off To The Races'.

Lana Del Rey is true force to be reckoned with. If she ever comes to a city near you, please go and see her. If you are into this type of music then you will absolutely love the concert. You will not regret it.

Cover Image Credit: Youtube

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