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Posted on May 20 2021

Portrait of Colossus is a searingly forthright début poetry pamphlet, that navigates parenting, masculinity, racism and ambiguities of identity. It articulates, with skill and sly humour, the migrant experience from the perspective of the second generation, the ones who " know (England) / more than everywhere else / put together". Brimming with vulnerability and pitched between the lilt of hooyo’s admonitions and Ted Hughes’ eye for the natural world, many of the poems reconcile disparate worlds, cultures and identities, firing them with the lyricism of Dawud’s Psalms. Samatar seamlessly blends influences from Somali oral history, Ovidian tales and Homer's Odyssey into a poetics that makes Portrait of Colossus cathartic, musical, emotionally satisfying as well as erudite. 

Samatar Elmi is a poet, PhD candidate and educator. His writing plays in the liminal spaces between racial, socio-cultural and political identity claims. He has been shortlisted for the Venture Award, the Complete Works II, New Generation African Poets and is a graduate of the Young Inscribe Mentoring Program. His poems have appeared in Poetry Review, Magma, Iota, Ink Sweat and Tears, Myths of the Near Future, Scarf, The Echoing Gallery and The Cadaverine.

Order Portrait of Colossus here

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