Published by Peepal Tree Press
The poems in Irki rise out of Kadija Sesay’s experiences – amusing, loving, confusing, sad – of growing up in foster care in the UK after leaving her home country of Sierra Leone.
‘Irki’ means ‘homeland’ in the Nubian language, a language and history fast becoming extinct, but the poems conjure up images of home as an imagined, remembered, still physical place. Writing as a second-generation West African, Kadija also recounts her arrival to the UK (with parents of different religions), and her experience of growing up Black against the racially divided background of Britain in the 1960s, 70s and 80s.
Kadija Sesay was born in Sierra Leone. She read West African studies at Birmingham University, then became a freelance journalist. In the mid-1990s she set up the newspaper Calabash. She founded SABLE LitMag in 2001 and the SABLE LitFest in 2005. Kadija has edited several important anthologies, including IC3: the Penguin Book of New Black Writing in Britain (2000), co-edited with Courttia Newland; Write Black, Write British (2005); and Red: An Anthology of Contemporary Black British Poetry (Peepal Tree, 2010), co-edited with Kwame Dawes. Her own poems have appeared in anthologies published by Canongate, Apples & Snakes, Macmillan and Flipped Eye. She lives in London.