Ladan Osman

Acclaimed Somali Poet

Readings &
Lecture Topics

• An Evening with Ladan Osman


“True visionary poets are very rare. Ladan Osman is one. What she sees is extraordinary, and needful.” –Brigit Pegeen Kelly

“Osman is a worldly and acutely sensitive writer who knows how to reach right through the sequined veil of fashion and put her hand squarely on the reader’s heart, with frank and candid expression, with unaffected wonder.” –Ted Kooser

“Osman is a warrior poet, and she is dangerous because she is especially gifted and disciplined about her craft.” –Kwame Dawes

Somali-born poet and essayist Ladan Osman is the author of Exiles of Eden (Coffee House Press, 2019), a work of poetry, photos, and experimental text, and The Kitchen-Dweller’s Testimony (University of Nebraska Press, 2015), winner of the Sillerman First Book Prize, and the chapbook Ordinary Heaven, which appeared in the box-set Seven New Generation African Poets (Slapering Hol Press, 2014).

Osman’s writing is a lyric and exegetic response to problems of race, gender, displacement, and colonialism. She examines existence in roles where imagination around female ability is limited, in the many spaces where women are so often denied automatic credibility and their logic is assumed fallible. In an interview with PEN Osman said, “I feel responsible for producing the best possible artifacts, for seeking increasing levels of understanding and specificity, for trying to distill and clarify aspects of human experience.” The Kitchen Dweller’s Testimony weaves through internal landscapes of uncertain worlds, at times playful and at times somber, unendingly moving. The Paris Review praised The Kitchen Dweller’s Testimony, recognizing Osman’s harmonizing ability to shift tone, saying: “The language is rich and playful and can be both brutal and transformative—sometimes in the same poem.”

Throughout her writing, Osman is concerned with the question of testimony. Whose testimony is valid? Whose testimony is worth recording? Her essay “On Not Writing” informs a provocative testament to her experiences and dual-identity. She holds a strong commitment to encouraging creative storytelling, and the documentation of it informs her practice.

Osman has received fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center, Cave Canem, and Luminarts Foundation, Michener Center for Writers Fellowship, among numerous other nominations. She is the recipient of a 2021 Whiting Award for Poetry.

Her work has appeared in numerous publications and has been translated into over 10 languages. Osman’s writing and photographs have appeared in Columbia Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, Roar, Rumpus, Transition, and Washington Square Review. She is a contributing culture editor for The Blueshift Journal.

Osman currently lives in Brooklyn.

Short Bio

Ladan Osman is the author of Exiles of Eden, winner of the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award and a Whiting Award, and The Kitchen-Dweller’s Testimony, winner of the Sillerman Prize. Osman’s poetry has been translated into over 10 languages. Her images were exhibited by Jenkins Johnson Gallery, Arts Incubator, Furious Flower, and the New York African Film Festival. Her work as a director includes: The Ascendants, Just Sam, and Sun of the Soil. She lives in New York.



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