25 August 2021 — Today sees the birth of a new cultural initiative in Somalia: the Home of Somali Poetry (Hoyga Maansada Soomaaliyeed), which brings together Somali poets and poetry enthusiasts to promote Somali poetry and use it to foster peace and human rights.
With support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Home of Somali Poetry website (www.hoygamaansada.com) hosts a growing Somali Poetry Archive, which preserves the classics and showcases new work from a fresh generation of poets, as well as an online magazine for poetry-related articles, interviews with poets, live performances, learning resources and more.
Starting this year, the Home of Somali Poetry initiative will run the annual Somali Poetry Awards – an “Oscars” of Somali poetry to recognise the very best creative talent across three categories: Poet of the Year, Woman Poet of the Year (sponsored by UNDP) and Youth Poet of the Year. The Awards open for entries through the Home of Somali Poetry website on 21 September and this year’s judges are leading and upcoming poets including Ahmed F. Ali (Idaajaa), Osman Abdullahi Guure, Mohamud Haji Mohamed (Tarash), Asha Mohamud Yusuf (Asha-luul) and Hawa Jama Abdi.
“I am very excited to see this Home of Somali Poetry initiative get started and take part as a judge for the Somali Poetry Awards,” said Abwaan Idaaja. “We Somalis have so much to contribute to the world and our poetry is top of the list, so I encourage everyone to support the Home of Somali Poetry and enter the Awards.”
The Home of Somali Poetry initiative will also organise special events to help unite Somalis around their shared literary culture and advocate for peace and human rights, as well as commissioning new work from Somali poets and organising live performances and cultural exchanges.
“Somali poetry is among the best in the world. It deserves a first-class home to keep it safe and a platform that can promote it with pride and love,” said Aar Mantaa, high-profile supporter of the Home of Somali Poetry. “We encourage anyone with a love for Somali poetry to visit us online and get involved.”
“UNDP is delighted to support the Home of Somali Poetry as it strides onto the Somali cultural scene,” said UNDP Somalia Resident Representative, Jocelyn Mason. “Poetry unites all Somalis and this common language and literary inheritance is a powerful tool for peace.”