This book has taken a long time writing. Amerah has long been a fundamental part of the burgeoning Birmingham poetry scene – producing, mentoring, making things happen in the city. She is a wise old poetry head in the body of a young woman. She has rarely put her own incredible poetry first.
And yet here it is, in book form at last.
I Am Not From Here is a collection that twists and turns through the complexities of being Birmingham born but of Yemeni decent and culture; of being Muslim in a city of mixed faiths and in a country of little faith; of spending time in Yemen only to find that as a result you are refused entry to other countries and have forgotten how to live in yours; of losing loved ones too young (and when are we ever old enough for that?); of being split between the language and words of two tongues, and often finding that neither has the words you need; of facing hatred for acts that were none of your doing, and inner turmoil as your mind and body seek the solace and comfort of belonging to enable you to turn and face the world.
This book contains and engages with all this. That it doesn’t burst is down to the unique and unifying voice of Amerah’s poetry. Brimming with emotion, anger, frustration, grief and love – the beauty of the imagery, the often breath-taking turns of phrase, the soaring imagination, the gently woven structure, all help to turn the torments and confusion of a fractured experience into something unique and compelling. Amerah, against so many odds, has achieved something whole here – a complete and vibrant piece of work.
A consummate performer of great skill and passion, we know that hearing Amerah read these poems will take them to another level again. We can hardly wait!
I Am Not From Here contains guest poems from Birmingham poets Raza Hussain, Afrah Yafai, Alhaam Moledina and Adjei Dsane.
Amerah has been writing and performing for 10 years across spoken word and theatre. She has taken her poetry all around the world to share messages with young people. She is a Board Member at Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Co-founder of Verve Poetry Press and a Producer at Free Radical as part of The Beatfreeks Collective.