Sahro Ali is a Somali-Australian hybrid. Her work explores ghosts of the diaspora, memories and trauma. She is a managing editor at Kerosene Magazine, a fledgling literary magazine created by and for marginalised artists. Her work is forthcoming in an anthology of anti-Trump work called CONTRA, which will be published by Kerosene. She is inspired by the women in her life who encourage and cultivate radical writing. She hopes one day to make them proud. She tweets @sahroaIi.
Geosi Gyasi: First, tell me about the kind of work you do at Kerosene Magazine?
Sahro Ali: Kerosene was created through 2AM discussions between 10 friends last year, we were all diving into the literary world and quickly found out that it wasn’t for us. The mainstream writing community is elite and inaccessible–submitting to magazines, entering contests, and attending workshops all cost money and these fees act as a barrier to those most affected by poverty–LGBT people of colour. We’re trying to smash those barriers. Our main mission is to nurture and give spaces to marginalized voices. We’re currently working on our first issue and a special project titled CONTRA or ‘’against’’ which features anti-white supremacy, anti-capitalist, and anti-trump art. However, we have plans that go beyond CONTRA. We hope to create online workshops for LGBT women of colour that will be free. Nothing is set in stone though!
Geosi Gyasi: I understand Kerosene Magazine supports marginalized artists. How do you define marginalized artists?
Sahro Ali: Artists who teeter on the periphery and aren’t given equal consideration and respect as non-marginalised artists are given.
Geosi Gyasi: Do you write predominantly for women?
Sahro Ali: I don’t like the idea of writing for someone other than myself. Not all women have the same experiences, and since I mostly derive inspiration from my own experiences and memories to say I write for women would be inaccurate. There’s a quote from Gloria Anzaldua that explains my relationship with writing far better than I could: ‘’I write to discover myself, to preserve myself, to make myself, and to achieve self-autonomy.’’
The mainstream writing community is elite and inaccessible–submitting to magazines, entering contests, and attending workshops all cost money and these fees act as a barrier to those most affected by poverty–LGBT people of colour.
Geosi Gyasi: Which women writers do you admire?
Sahro Ali: So many! My friends, Elisa Luna-Ady, Diana Khong, Shirley Wang, and Ayame Keane-Lee. Who I am so grateful to know and be able to watch grow and interact with. Then there are women I love and admire from afar. Gloria Annzaldua, Warsan Shire, Zadie Smith, Safia Elhillo, Trinh T. Minh-ha and so many more!
Geosi Gyasi: How did you hear about the Brunel International African Poetry Prize and what inspired you to enter your poems?
Sahro Ali: Two of my favourite poets were past winners (Warsan Shire and Safia Elhilo), I was lurking the internet for all of their published work and stumbled upon the poetry prize. I was tentative about entering but my friends pushed me to do it and gave me the courage to enter. They’re always my source of inspiration and I always say this but it stands true, I would not be the person I am today without them.