Poet's plea for boat refugees quoted on BBC's Question Time
A line from a poem by Somali-British poet Warsan Shire was quoted on BBC’s Question Time on Thursday night as a panellist replied to an audience member who asked: “Is it time to give up on the Rwanda asylum plan?”
The question was asked after the government’s plan to deport refugees to Rwanda was ruled unlawful by the appeal court earlier in the day. Question Time panellist Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall said: “There's a Somali British poet called Warsan Shire who said, no one puts a child in a boat unless the water is safer than the land. The Rwanda plan is a high-profile policy that grabs the attention of the rightwing press and is completely unacceptable."
Fearnley-Whttingstall was quoting from Warsan Shire’s poem ‘Home’, which includes these lines: “you have to understand, / that no one puts their children in a boat / unless the water is safer than the land.” The poem also says: “i want to go home, / but home is the mouth of a shark / home is the barrel of the gun.”
Warsan Shire wrote poetry for the album Lemonade and the Disney film Black Is King in collaboration with Beyoncé. Her collection Bless The Daughter was shortlisted for the 2022 Forward best first collection prize.
There was another remarkable moment during the Question Time debate when chair Fiona Bruce asked the audience: “Even though we have more people that voted Conservative than for any other single party here, is there anyone here who supports sending people to Rwanda?”.There was applause from the audience when no one responded to Bruce’s appeal.