This August, Lyricality Founder/Director Tracy Rittmueller is pleased to present Lyricality’s “Read Poetry 2021” chosen author, Louise K. Waakaa’igan along with the guest poets who graced us with their presence at “an Evening with Louise K. Waakaa’igan” on April 8, 2021. Please enjoy this video series offering a deep-dive into Louise’s poetry, in conversation with 6 of Minnesota’s wonderful poets–3 nationally known poets from the Twin Cities metroplex and 3 accomplished Somali-American poets from Saint Cloud.

About Abdi Mahad

In this conversation, Lyricality’s “Read Poetry 2020” poet Abdi Mahad reads his translation of “Within” in Somali by Louise K. Waakaa’igan and responds with her poem “Within.”

Abdi Mahad was born in Somalia and began writing poetry when he was 14 years old. He is an editor, English instructor and translator, who wants to tell of the beauty of Somalia before the war happened. Many people might not know that Somalia is known as a nation of poets, because it is a side of Somalia rarely seen. So often, Somalia’s war drowns out the poetry. But here Abdi Mahad’s poetry is an agent for healing, sharing and connecting.

Louise says of Abdi’s poetry contribution: When reading and/or sharing the poetry of one’s life with a circle of writers and lovers of words, I am taught the value of honest communication. Honest in a way where one will reveal the inner workings of their heart and their experience. We are all on this journey called life. And, inside these moments of shared experience, we enlighten ourselves to a greater truth. We are all related.

About THIS IS WHERE and Louise K. Waakaa’igan

This August (2021), ​​This Is Where, guides a series of video conversations on Sunday Morning Lyricality as we celebrate Louise K. Waakaa’igan, an Anishanabekwe poet enrolled at La Courte Ordielles Reservation in northern Wisconsin. Her poems courageously face hard truths, revealing the sorrows of complicated families and historical trauma. Her poems bring beauty to the world through their painstaking attention to the craft of writing, with empathy and kindness. 
This Is Where brings to us a gift in this naming and acceptance of contradiction. Aren’t we all searching for wholeness in a fragmented, polarized world? By holding the broken and the healing, the miraculous and the pitiful tenderly together, by facing ambiguities and contradictions, This Is Where shows us that while there are no shortcuts to healing and reconciliation, and although the work is hard, Love is possible.


“Within” appears in This is Where by Louise K. Waakaa’igan (Willow Books, 2020). Willow Books is the award-winning division of AQUARIUS PRESS, 

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“Read Poetry Central Minnesota 2021” and “An Evening with Louise K. Waakaa’igan” were made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Central MN Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.