Be inspired by Warsan Shire

In the lead up to Issue VI’s submission deadline, our Editor is sharing six poems which she believes speak to the themes of courage and the symbolic serpent, as well as being linked to Li Ji’s heroism. In preparing your submission (whether it be poetry, prose, photography or art), feel free to be inspired by these pieces.

The Ugly Daughter by Warsan Shire

Your daughter is ugly.

She knows loss intimately,

carries whole cities in her belly.


As a child, relatives wouldn’t hold her.

She was splintered wood and sea water.

She reminded them of the war.


On her fifteenth birthday you taught her

how to tie her hair like rope

and smoke it over burning frankincense.


You made her gargle rosewater

and while she coughed, said

macaanto girls like you shouldn’t smell

of lonely or empty.


You are her mother.

Why did you not warn her,

hold her like a rotting boat

and tell her that men will not love her

if she is covered in continents,

if her teeth are small colonies,

if her stomach is an island

if her thighs are borders?


What man wants to lie down

and watch the world burn

in his bedroom?


Your daughter’s face is a small riot,

her hands are a civil war,

a refugee camp behind each ear,

a body littered with ugly things.


But God,

doesn’t she wear

the world well?



The deadline for Issue VI is May 15th. Read more about Issue VI here.

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