Hanna was born in Mogadishu, Somali where she spent the first four first years of her life. At the age of ten she started writing poetry; first with song lyrics first before delving into short stories.
“As a child refugee, I experienced witnessing a lot of trauma whilst fleeing from the civil war in Somalia in the late 80’s and early 90’s and writing was always an outlet for me to deal with the things that I had experienced,” says Hanna.
Watch Hanna Ali at Africa Writes 2018
At the age of five, she arrived in Sweden, but moved to the United Kingdom ten years later. Home and (un)belonging are important themes in all of her creative work and also spill into her academic research. Hanna: “I’m always fascinated by what home means to those who have been forced to flee and grow up elsewhere.”
Poetry and Songs
Hanna started writing poetry at the age of ten, first with song lyrics before delving into short stories She considers herself to be a typical Somali artist, since her poetic prose closely connects her to her homeland Somalia, often referred to as a nation of poets.
Hanna obtained her BA in English and American literature, and completed her Master’s degree at the University of Kent. It was during her time at university that she took a gap year, first to Italy and then to Egypt, where she lived for more than nine months. After that, she moved to Jordan, and hosted a popular English radio station in the Middle East.
Hanna is a Teaching Fellow and a PhD candidate in SOAS, University of London where she specialises in Afro-Arab identity and migrant writers.
She is a member of Exiled Writers and her work has been published in numerous publications including Scarf Magazine, Brittle Paper and Cecile’s Writers’ Magazine. She was also shortlisted for the London Short Story Prize 2016.
Hanna Ali currently lives in central London.
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