Tea with Cardamom
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Tea with Cardamom

Price: £5

Winner of the 2017/18 New Poets Prize

Judged by Kayo Chingonyi


Tea with Cardamom crosses borders and cultures, combining the family storytelling of a home in Somalia with a childhood in a UK city. These vibrant, vivid poems contain so many lives: the colour, the laughter and the heartache.



These poems struck me as wonderfully contemporary while gesturing towards something ancient in their frequent recourse to that which is passed down, as well as that which we improvise as our own pathways unfold. The poems invoke a world within a world making for a multi-layered perspective on life in the UK at the present moment. – Kayo Chingonyi

Somali culture infuses this whole collection, with its smells and flavours and cultural detail, its affection and grief and tragedy - but more than this, here is a new voice in poetry, clear, lyrical, beautiful. I loved it. – Carole Bromley




Warda Yassin is a Sheffield based Somali poet. She is part of the Hive network and The Writing Squad. Warda writes about family and culture, and the spaces between these worlds. She has performed alongside the likes of Buddy Wakefield and Jean Binta Breeze. Her work has been anthologised in Introduction X (Smith|Doorstop), Verse Matters (Valley Press) and Halfway Smile (Hive).




Stories of Boys and Men
from Tea with Cardamom


I know of boys who have killed and have been killed, boys

who would die for postcodes and houses they do not own, who hold

their 14 year old brother’s hand and mould it around knives, hammers

and blades, their knuckles unkissed gang signs.


I know of husbands who sleep lopsided, one eye on the fire

escape, the other on a nursing wife. Wallahi she’s seen the back of him

running more times than she’s opened the front door to his Salam.

They are tired of hiding the hagbaad and Ayeeyo’s gold.


I know of boys who smile at me in respect, whose names

paralyse the ear, boys who I differentiate by dusk and dawn

with their limited light. I know of young men who’ve survived

desert walks along Godless plains, Kenyan refugee camps


inside crates, the grieving sea, cold hands feverishly pulling at fabric.

Those who died to arrive safe. I know of fathers who burned

their memories and frayed their tongues; men who have gained

nothing, whose children are conscripted to the war they fled,


turning the streets, the living rooms, their mother’s wombs

into graveyards. And I know those women who wear emptiness

like phones that ring out unanswered, mothers whose backs buckle

under the weight of storms. I know of sisters who keep tally.


*Wallahi- I swear by Allah

*hagbaad  - A traditional  way to save money

*ayeeyo – grandmother


More by Warda Yassin

The author(s) have no other publications from smith|doorstop

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