Letter from the Editors: Xagaa 2018

Rites of escapism

Dear Readers,

Some say that chilly winter months lend themselves to introspection and reflection, as well as feelings of listlessness and melancholy, existential anxieties, and the “blues.” While statistics show that season and sunlight indeed play upon our moods, in truth mental illness knows no boundaries. Thus we found ourselves mid-summer, preparing the Xagaa 2018 issue of Hargeisa Literary Magazine, and inundated with submissions touching on this topic, including visual and poetic references to depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and even suicide. Mental illness weaves its way through several works in this issue, sometimes subtly and elsewhere, as in Ladan Abdi’s poem “Mental Health is a Bitch Sometimes,” more assertively.  Two important works of art from the Trinidadian multi-media artist of color Marinna Shareef—“The Mental Institution” and “I’m Melting”—make appearances as well, fitting in beautifully among creative writings about mental health struggles from Somali voices.  Anisa Hagi-Mohamed works to answer deceptively complex questions in “Maxaa Kaa Maqan?” while Karima Osman and Naaima Abdi lend strength and purpose to inner and outer battles in their respective poems  مكتوب (Maktub) and Poem, Untitled (2). Mental illness is an equalizer, affecting communities across the globe without exception. Yet, only where it is acknowledged and embraced can it be challenged. We stand with those on the path to wellness, and we celebrate creative outlets as a means of expression, self-acceptance, and wholeness.

We are proud to feature some stunning works of fiction from talented writers, including Asma Ismail’s “Hinterlands” and “الحلم الجميل (Beautiful Dream)” by Saloomi, among others. It is a joy to read such a breadth of style, from harrowing tales of escape, to practical discussions among friends, to phantasmagorical explorations of paradise and what lays beyond.

We acknowledge, as well, a dual trend of digital and analog art from contributors. In the twenty-first century, art springs forth from software and stylus as often as paintbrush and pencil. To wit, you will find on our pages charming and symbolic sketches like “Du’a (Prayer)” from Asha Mohamed, while Shukri Janagale brings “Abaayo and Awoowe” boldly into the modern age, and a collection of soft, loving portraits from Nuura Axmed, including “Macooyo and the First Granddaughter,” which we fell for long before we discovered she had rendered them from photographs on her smartphone! A series of fantastical digital artwork ties together these parallel lineages, featuring black-and-white drawings imposed on photographs, from a digital collaboration between two remarkable visual creatives.

And as always, we are grateful for the the wonderful photography submissions that give visual life to this digital platform.

Enjoy our second issue, made possible thanks to contributions from talented creatives and thanks to you, Dear Reader, for your interest and encouragement.

From Hargeisa, wishing you a healthful and creative Xagaa 2018.

Salwa & Erin, Editors

Ahmed Magare (Artist) is a multidisciplinary artist, poet, and writer and is a member of the Birmingham-based international writers group, Writers Without Borders. He is originally from Somalia. He migrated with his family to the Netherlands during the Somali Civil War, aged three, and lived there with his family for his teenage years, eventually moving to England to pursue an education in creative arts. In his writing, he explores the notion of hyper-dislocation and the experience of living in the West, through the poetic and static lenses of self-reflection and perseverance. He navigates mentally between Somalia and the West, questioning states of longing and belonging, and commenting on sociopolitical and cultural subjects in the spaces of global Somalis.

Find Ahmed’s books on Amazon: When Heroes Hide Behind Curtain Ropes, and Vessels.


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