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Our 2023 #YoungWriterAward Shadow Panel have spoken and they have selected Momtaza Mehri (@ruffneckrefugee) as their winner for her debut poetry collection, Bad Diaspora Poems. Congratulations Momtaza!

‘Exploring diasporic identity, collective memory, alienation and hope, Bad Diaspora Poems is a refined and perfectly-formed collection — it has impressive scope, and never falters in its momentum. Full of beauty and force, Mehri’s writing doesn’t seek to placate, instead questioning and expanding understandings of diasporic and immigrant experiences.’ Beth Jamie, @bethjamiie

‘Picking our winner was incredibly hard as each shortlisted book was utterly fantastic. However, after much deliberation, Bad Diaspora Poems took our top spot. Mehri’s collection is absolutely mesmerising. An ode to the immigrant experience, Mehri’s poetry is both beautiful and biting; she doesn’t shy away from exploring the complex dynamics between the diaspora and their home countries, and she does so in the most breathtaking way. I already can’t wait to reread the collection.’ Harriet Caiger, @harrietslittlelibrary

‘Momtaza Mehri is virtuosic in her composition of Bad Diaspora Poems, her debut collection which is at once a historical record of nineteenth and twentieth century Somalia, but also a reflection of our twenty-first century society in all its multilingual, tender and ferocious capacities. Bad Diaspora Poems gives a voice to the diaspora community in Britain, without compromising Momtaza’s own presence, beautifully constructed in its defiance against space and borders, against the complacency that has existed in the literary world, and against the idea that immigrants and refugees are tragic characters dispossessed of joy and agency. Her poetry is very clearly inspired by community, and we are always in need of voices that incite solidarity instead of dissonance, which Momtaza achieves with a seamless, unsentimental ardor.’ Taslima Khatun, @taslibri

‘Mehri’s debut poetry collection questions what it is to write diaspora poetry, and the different forms and definitions that home and identity can take as part of a diaspora. Her voice is so eloquent and defining, pulling and probing at the limits history and identity…Bad Diaspora Poems is a breathtaking, forceful collection with a one of a kind voice’ Emily Goulding, @thingsthativeread

Young Writer Award @YoungWriterYear

Follow us on twitter. The Young Writer of the Year Award is a prize of £10,000 for a writer under 35.

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