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Our Dear Friend, Leading Somali Poet, Gaarriye Has Died

Everyone at the PTC is devastated by the tragic news that MaxamedXaashiDhamac 'Gaarriye'has died after a long and painful illness. Not only have we lost a much loved friend, but the world has lost one of its greatest poets.

Gaarriye contribution to the success of the PTC is simply incalculable. His magnificent poetry, read with his amazing energy and force, astonished English-speaking audiences who had never before encountered a poet like him. Through his powerful performances, many people in the UK were introduced to one of the greatest of all world poetries, that in the Somali language. We are enormously grateful to Martin Orwin, who first introduced us to Gaarriye's poetry in 2004, and to his translators - Martin himself, MaxamedXasan 'Alto', David Harsent (who translated Gaarriye in 2005 for our World Poets' Tour) and Bill Herbert (who worked closely with Martin and Gaarriye himself during our second World Poets' Tour in 2008).

Among Gaarriye's memorable performances with the PTC two stand out: his reading alongside Bill Herbert at The Bluecoat Centre in Liverpool in 2008, where he galvanised the audience and received a delighted response from a group of young Somali poets; and his reading at our World Poets' Tour Men's Night in October, where he was joined on stage by 'The Tallest Man in the World'.

You can listen to Gaarriye reading his poems in our podcast; download or buy the chapbook of his poetry; look at all the photos Crispin Hughes took of him; and watch three videos of him reading with Bill Herbert.

We are enormously privileged to have had the opportunity to have worked so closely with Gaarriye and to have had him as a friend. He was tireless in his commitment to his people and to poetry. Not only was he an inspirational poet, but his soaring intellect and the depth of his knowledge meant that he was the first person to articulate the fiendishly difficult structures of Somali metrics, a towering achievement.

Without Gaarriye, the PTC would not be the success it is today. We loved him deeply and will miss him enormously.

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