for women who are ‘difficult’ to love

by Warsan Shire

Photo by Leyla Jeyte

Writing Workshop

Workshop Title: Difficult

Step 1

Say, “What immediately comes to mind when you hear the term ‘difficult women’? Do you know any ‘difficult’ women? Who are they? What makes them ‘difficult’?” Then give your students time to discuss.

Step 2

Read “for women who are ‘difficult’ to love” by Warsan Shire. When you’re done, briefly discuss what the poem says about “difficult women” and the people around them.

Step 3

Ask your students to think of other groups of people who, to some, may be “difficult” to love. Then have them jot down the reasons what makes them “difficult.” Give your students a few minutes to brainstorm.

Step 4

Ask your students to compose a poem similar in sentiment to “for women who are ‘difficult’ to love” in which you express your love, appreciation, and reassurance toward another “difficult” group of people.

Step 5

When the students are done, have them share their responses with one another.

The full presentation may be found HERE.

Analytical Lesson

Area of Focus: Various

Step 1

This lesson allows students to analyze various concepts and skills, so it is recommended that you have covered several of the “standalone” lessons before assigning this one.

Step 2

Show the following video to your students. Then hold a brief discussion. What do they think it means to be a “difficult” woman? And why – as the video asserts – are “difficult” women made invisible?

Step 3

Read “for women who are ‘difficult’ to love” by Warsan Shire. When you’re done, ask your students to identify the speaker’s attitude toward “difficult” women. Then ask them to identify some pieces of the text to support their responses.

Step 4

Have your students open the following document and go over the introduction and directions with them. In this assignment, your students are going to analyze the poem and identify the larger societal issues that Shire brings up through her praise of women who are ‘difficult’ to love. Then give your students time to work.

Step 5

When your students are done, have them share their themes with the rest of the class and ask them to provide a few examples of their analyses.
If time permits, share the exemplar essay with them.

Lesson Details

Lesson Info


  • Various


  • Appreciation
  • Community / Culture
  • Family
  • Gender / Gender Identity / Gender Expression / Sexism
  • Love
  • Social Movements / Protest

Literary Tags

  • Diction
  • Figurative Language
  • Imagery
  • Selection of Detail
  • Structure
  • Tone

Content Warning

  • Sexism and Misogyny