‘Irki’ means ‘homeland’ in the Nubian language – a language which is fast becoming extinct. Kadija returns at times to this loss of history and tradition, in a collection that brings to bear the memory of a pan-African homeland upon the reality of a British upbringing. Writing as a second generation West African, Kadija tells of the arrival of parents of different religions, the loss of a national tongue, and growing up Black, as one of the ‘Michael Jackson generation’, against the racially divided background of Britain in the 60s, 70s and 80s.
One of only a handful of West African-descended poets writing and publishing in Britain today, Kadija confronts the common experience of private fostering that many from her community have faced but feel unable to talk about openly.
She ends her debut collection on the edge, skirting borders as she draws upon her travels to relate intimate childhood experiences.
“It is Kadija’s multicultural awakening that comes across to me, with its conflicting heterogeneity; the discovery of what it means to be a ‘Black Briton;’ one whose childhood had the taste of sweet confectures at home and the occasional artichoke of the ‘otherness’ in the public sphere. The poems are both witty and , occasionally, deeply questioning of the existing shibboleth of race, class, taste and attitudes so commonplace in Britain. I am sure her readers will find, in many of the poems, reflections of their own coming of age days; their peculiar instances of iconic changes, pride in the ‘self’, a going out into the wolf-world of the ‘other,’ and, most important of all, the sense of arrival into a complete persona.”
Syl Cheney-Coker, author of Stone Child and Other Poems
“These intimate, searing poems are like touch on the page. They are poems about the sweetness and losses that have shaped Kadija Sesay’s life. Crafted in striking lines, they become her reader’s memories too – close, tender, haunting.”
Gabeba Baderoon, author of
The Dream in the Next Body and A Hundred Silences.