Exploring their identity, faith and heritage through incredible poetry

A New Nation of Poets #1 – Faisal Salah

Somalia has always had a rich poetic history. In the eyes of many, it is the nation of poets, largely because the art form has persisted even when the unity of the nation has been tested. This is best exemplified by the emergence of several very talented British-Somali poets, whose creativity has allowed this important part of our culture to flourish in the diaspora.

Over the next few weeks, we’re going to look at the young people who are creating a new nation of poets right here in the UK. First up, Faisal Salah, whose work is blurring the line between poetry and song, while exploring subjects like faith, heritage and identity.

Words in Motion

To get a true sense of Salah’s work you really must listen to him read it, or rather, sing it. This guy is not your typical poet. All his work is delivered as a melody, something he calls ‘words in motion’.

Speaking to Buzzfeed, Salah said: ‘You have poetry on the page and what I do is bring it to life….when you’re performing that onstage it’s you who’s bringing it to life because you are the moving expression. For me, melody is the emotion that can’t be contained in words.’

Waterfalls and Freestyles


His style is on perfect display in his poem ‘Waterfall’, where he explores how his roots have shaped him, even as he speeds along in the modern day. Turn the sound up and check out the video above.

Salah’s method is so free-flowing and natural, it’s no surprise that he’s also pretty great at coming up with stuff on the fly, as this excellent living room freestyle/beatbox/vocal exercise shows:


‘People are connecting to the beauty of where they come from’

Salah is one of many young, British-Somalis who are reshaping their cultural identity through poetry. He’s part of a generation who are tied to their heritage through family, but not to the divisions that may have existed in the past. This gives them a new kind of freedom to create and a new perspective on their identity as Somalis.

In a video shot last year, Salah broke it down like this: ‘I feel like the generation that’ve come over, their kids have started to grow, and now their kids can showcase what they’re doing as a byproduct of a globalised society.