Flipped eye to publish collection from 'Lemonade' poet Warsan Shire

Flipped eye to publish collection from 'Lemonade' poet Warsan Shire

Manchester-based indie flipped eye publishing is publishing Somali-British writer Warsan Shire's first full poetry collection, Extreme Girlhood.

Popularity in Shire's work has jumped since her poetry was adapted to feature on Beyoncé Knowles' new “visual” album, "Lemonade", released on HBO on 23rd April. It features 12 songs interspersed with the 27-year-old poet and feminist’s words, earning Shire credit for "film adaptation and poetry” on the album. 

The due date for the poet's collection is "late 2016/ early 2017". Shire's editor Nii Parkes at flipped eye publishing told The Bookseller it will remain Shire's publisher, commenting: "There have been many offers, but Warsan is principled and grounded." Shire's literary agent is Samar Hammam from Rocking Chair Books, who is selling rights in her debut Teaching My Mother How To Give Birth and the collection Extreme Girlhood in the US, Australia, and Canada as well as in translation on behalf of Nii Parkes at flipped eye publishing.

Shire, who was named the winner of the inaugural Brunel University African Poetry Prize in 2013 and London’s Young Poet Laureate in 2014 when she was just 25, collated a selection of her early poems in a chapbook called Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth (flipped eye publishing). After originally publishing in 2011, it sold 338 copies last week, up from 24 copies the week before: a rise of 1,308% in volume and the title’s biggest week of sales to date.

Shire’s publishers said the jump could have been more but Shire’s work had “always sold well”. Shire's publishers had been “aware of the project” with Knowles, but because of confidentiality could not "warn" retailers, resulting in stocking issues.

Flipped eye also publishes Shire’s 2015 poetry chapbook, Her Blue Body, which Shire put together at the end of her tenure as London’s Young Poet Laureate; it and Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth both sold out on Amazon.com within hours of Lemonade's release.

Excerpts, read by Knowles herself on the Lemonade album, include "For Women Who Are Difficult To Love", "The Unbearable Weight of Staying (the End of the Relationship)" and "Nail Technician as Palm Reader”. Lemonade has been highly publicised and a source of controversy over many of Knowles' own lyrics, which many believe allude to infidelity within her marriage to rapper Jay Z. In particular, it has prompted mass speculation over who the other woman - “Becky with the good hair” - might be. 

Senior editor and manager at flipped eye, Nii Parkes, commented: "Naturally, we're really pleased that thanks to Lemonade, a lot more people will get to experience what we did when we first encountered Warsan's work - an emotional jolt, recognition of a powerful new perspective and admiration for a young writer's dedication to craft. 

"Readers began to recognise her unique place in greater numbers in 2013 so retailers will not have been entirely surprised.

"Our focus here is to continue to develop some of the most exciting writers around and work strategically with partners with common values and goals to ensure our long term sustainability."