In My Voice
portrait of Maxamed Xaashi Dhamac ‘Gaarriye’

Maxamed Xaashi Dhamac ‘Gaarriye’

Maxamed Xaashi Dhamac 'Gaarriye' was born in Hargeysa in 1949 where he continued to live until illness forced him to leave for Norway in 2011. Gaarriye died in Oslo on 30th September, 2012.

Gaarriye attended school in Sheikh in Somaliland and then graduated with a degree in biology from the Somali National University, following which he worked as a teacher for several years. As a keen poet and literary scholar also he later worked at the Academy of Culture in Mogadishu and then as a lecturer in Somali literature at National University.

Since the 1970s Gaarriye was universally regarded as one of the most important Somali poets composing on a great variety of topics from nuclear weapons to Nelson Mandela. A poet who was never afraid to engage in the politics of Somalia through his poetry, he was the initiator of one of the largest 'chain poems''Deelley' to which many poets contributed, each one alliterating in 'd' - hence the name of the chain.

In addition to his poetry, Gaarriye was the person who first articulated the metrical patterns of Somali poetry, which he published in 1976 in a number of articles in the national newspaper of the time. This work was invaluable and a major intellectual achievement.

Martin Orwin

Poems by Maxamed Xaashi Dhamac ‘Gaarriye’


  • Saddiq, Sarah and Gaarriye, backstage at the British Library before their reading.
  • In the Bluecoat lift after their first reading together, both Bill and Gaarriye agree it was an incredible success.
  • Bill, Martin and Gaarriye backstage at the British Library before Gaarriye and Martin read.
  • Somalis are avid communicators. In a country ravaged by civil war, the lack of infrastructure has turned them into enthusiastic users of mobile telephones. No choice then for Gaarriye's translators, Bill Herbert and Martin Orwin, but to embrace modern telephony with an equal degree of enthusiasm.
  • David Harsent & Maxamed Xaashi Dhamac ‘Gaarriye'
  • Our reception at the House of Lords was held in the Atlee Room. Here, four international poets - Farzaneh Khojandi, Al-Saddiq Al-Raddi, Maxamed Xaashi Dhamac 'Gaarriye' and Corsino Fortes - pose beneath a portrait of Clement Atlee, the man who brought you the National Health Service.
  • Gaarriye and David Harsent at the WPT Launch Party
  • The launch party for our World Poets’ Tour – which took place at the October Gallery in central London on 4th October 2005 - was a very special evening. This was the first time our international poets got to meet their UK poet-translators (and each other); they were joined by representatives of their communities and assorted poetry enthusiasts. And, as you’ll gather from these photos taken by Crispin Hughes, it was a truly wonderful event.
  • Gaarriye and Sarah Maguire at the WPT Launch Party.
  • Gaarriye’s WPT 2005 London performance gained an extra dimension when he invited “the tallest man in the world”, fellow Somali Hussein Bissad, to join him. Hussein, who is eight feet one inch tall, stood on stage throughout Gaarriye’s reading.
  • Gaarriye and W N Herbert on stage together during their reading at the British Library.
  • Gaarriye at the WPT Launch Party