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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35 Major Life Facts According To Nick Miller

"All booze is good booze, unless it's weak booze."
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Fact: If you watch "New Girl," you love Nick Miller.

You can't help it. He's an adorable, lovable mess of a man and you look forward to seeing him and his shenanigans each week. While living the infamous and incomparable life of Nick Miller, and obviously Julius Pepperwood— he has learned many valuable laws of the land. And, although Nick refuses to learn anything from anyone besides his mysterious, old Asian friend Tran, he does have a few lessons he'd like to teach us.

Here are 35 facts of life according to 'Nick Milla Nick Milla':

1. Drinking keeps you healthy.

"I'm not gonna get sick. No germ can live in a body that is 65% beer."

2. Dinosaurs never existed.

"I don't believe dinosaurs existed. I've seen the science. I don't believe it."


3. A paper bag is a bank.

"A bank is just a paper bag but with fancier walls."


4. Having sex is similar to delivering mail.

"I'm like a mailman, except instead of mail it's hot sex that I deliver."

5. Moonwalking is a foolproof way to get out of any awkward situation.

Jess (about Nick): "Now he won't even talk to me. I saw him this morning and he just panic moonwalked away from me. He does that sometimes."

6. Using a movie reference is also a great way.

Cece: "Come on, get up!"

Nick: "No, I don't dance. I'm from that town in "Footloose."

7. There's no reason to wash towels.

Nick: "I don’t wash the towel. The towel washes me. Who washes a towel?"

Schmidt: "You never wash your towel?"

Nick: "What am I gonna do? Wash the shower next? Wash a bar of soap?"

8. Exes are meant to be avoided at all costs (especially if/unless they're Caroline)

"I don't deal with exes, they're part of the past. You burn them swiftly and you give their ashes to Poseidon."

9. IKEA furniture is not as intimidating as it looks.

"I'm building you the dresser. I love this stuff. It's like high-stakes LEGOs."

10. You don't need forks if you have hands.

Jess: "That's gross. Get a fork, man."

Nick: "I got two perfectly good forks at the end of my arms!"

11. Sex has a very specific definition.


"It's not sex until you put the straw in the coconut."

12. Doors are frustrating.

"I will push if I want to push! Come on! I hate doors!"

13. All booze is good booze.

"Can I get an alcohol?"

14. ...unless it's weak booze.

"Schmidt, that is melon flavored liquor! That is 4-proof! That is safe to drink while you're pregnant!"

15. Writers are like pregnant women.

Jess: "You know what that sound is? It's the sound of an empty uterus."

Nick: "I can top that easily. I'm having a hard time with my zombie novel."

Jess: "Are you really comparing a zombie novel to my ability to create life?"

Nick: "I'm a writer, Jess. We create life."

16. All bets must be honored.

"There is something serious I have to tell you about the future. The name of my first-born child needs to be Reginald VelJohnson. I lost a bet to Schmidt."

17. Adele's voice is like a combination of Fergie and Jesus.

"Adele is amazing."

18. Beyoncé is extremely trustworthy.

"I'd trust Beyoncé with my life. We be all night."

19. Fish, on the other hand, are not.


“Absolutely not. You know I don’t trust fish! They breathe water. That's crazy!"

20. Bar mitzvahs are terrifying.

Schmidt: "It's a bar mitzvah!"

Nick: "I am NOT watching a kid get circumcised!"

21. ...so are blueberries.

Jess: "So far, Nick Miller's list of fears is sharks, tap water, real relationships..."

Nick: "And blueberries."

22. Take your time with difficult decisions. Don't be rash.


Jess: "You care about your burritos more than my children, Nick?"

Nick: "You're putting me in a tough spot!"

23. Getting into shape is not easy.

"I mean, I’m not doing squats or anything. I’m trying to eat less donuts."

24. We aren't meant to talk about our feelings.

"If we needed to talk about feelings, they would be called talkings."


25. We're all a little bit too hard on ourselves.

"The enemy is the inner me."

26. Freezing your underwear is a good way to cool off.


"Trust me, I'm wearing frozen underpants right now and I feel amazing. I'm gonna grab some old underpants and put a pair into the freezer for each of you."

27. Public nudity is normal.

"Everbody has been flashed countless times."

28. Alcohol is a cure-all.


"You treat an outside wound with rubbing alcohol. You treat an inside wound with drinking alcohol."

29. Horses are aliens.

"I believe horses are from outer-space."


30. Turtles should actually be called 'shell-beavers.'

Jess: "He calls turtles 'shell-beavers."

Nick: "Well, that's what they should be called."

31. Trench coats are hot.


"This coat has clean lines and pockets that don't quit, and it has room for your hips. And, when I wear it, I feel hot to trot!"


32. Sparkles are too.

"Now, my final bit of advice, and don't get sensitive on this, but you've got to change that top it's terrible and you've got to throw sparkles on. Sparkles are in. SPARKLES ARE IN."

33. Introspection can lead to a deeper knowing of oneself.

"I'm not convinced I know how to read. I've just memorized a lot of words."


34. It's important to live in the moment.

"I know this isn't gonna end well but the middle part is gonna be awesome."


35. Drinking makes you cooler.

Jess: "Drinking to be cool, Nick? That's not a real thing."

Nick: "That's the only thing in the world I know to be true."

Cover Image Credit: Hollywood Reporter

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