Opinion: Sheffield's inspirational poet laureate will hopefully inspire the next generation of writers
Having inspiring role models to look up to is incredibly important for children and young people as they develop and grow, and Sheffield is blessed with having a great one like Warda Yassin.
The 28-year-old is Sheffield’s current poet laureate and has turned her love of the written word into an important role, through which she is helping to demonstrate exactly why the city’s poetry scene is ‘eclectic, diverse’ and ‘fiery’.
And the title of poet laureate is far from the only accolate that Warda, who is a teacher at Hinde House School in Shiregreen, has received: she won the New Poets Prize in 2018 with her debut pamphlet, Tea with Cardamom; and in 2020, she also won The Women Poets’ Prize.
This month, her poem Weston Park was placed on a billboard in the city centre as part of National Poetry Day, further cementing her role as the city’s poet laureate.
As she explains to Rob Hollingworth in a feature you can find inside today’s Sheffield Weekend, Warda’s journey ‘was not the conventional path into poetry’.
Her love of the medium came aged 19 when she met city writer Vicky Morris, founder of the city’s Hive Young Writers project, and joined the group.
“Her group was focussed on confidence building, poetry was a reflection and it was such a warm and inviting space. I was dipping my toe in the water and got so much encouragement,” she said.
The fact that her route was not ‘conventional’ and she came to it slightly later in life is just one of a myriad of reasons that Warda’s journey is such a valuable one for people, and youngsters in particular, to learn from.
Warda’s family came to Sheffield in the early 1990s from Somaliland due to the civil war and settled here. She was brought up in Broomhall where she still lives, surrounded by her family.
She says poetry has given her ‘confidence,’ something she links, in part, to her role as a teacher within the Shiregreen community because it connects her with people.
“My work is focussed on the people who inspired me, people I love who compelled me to write,” she said.
I hope Warda’s role and achievements compels others to write, and in doing so, creates the next generation of great Sheffield poets.