Closeup January 9, 2018
“For My Ayeeyo:” Learning Somali Poetry From a Distance

Amal Hussein and Hamdi Mohamed have a lot in common. Both were born in Kenya, where their parents fled as refugees during the Somali Civil War, and both came to Boston when they were just a few years old. They’re both poets — and equally important for this story — both their grandmothers are poets. But there’s one crucial difference in the two women's stories. Hamdi grew up with her grandmother ("ayeeyo" in Somali") in the house, whispering poems in her ears. Amal has only known her grandmother on the phone — she stayed behind when the rest of the family fled. Nevertheless, it is the distant words and stories of her grandmother that inspire Amal to take on the challenge of writing her first Somali poem. Produced by Ian Coss. Distributed 1/09/2017

About the producer:

Ian Coss divides his time between pursuing a Ph.D in ethnomusicology at Boston University and producing audio for programs including The World, Studio 360, Life of the Law, Afropop Worldwide and BBC’s Cultural Frontline.

Collaboration: This program was produced in partnership with The New American Songbook podcast from The GroundTruth Project.