Publisher: Cordite Books
Far too many people have a love/hate relationship with poetry. Sometimes it takes stumbling onto the right words or artist at just the right time to create a lifelong love of the genre. If you feel like poetry is all about the Shakespearean complicated-ness and hard to follow ideas, artists like Omar Sakr are perfect to show you what poetry can truly be.
Sakr’s voice, even in amongst Australia’s wealth of talented poets, is a remarkable one. Perhaps it’s because his gaze takes in so many elements of identity that verge on the uncomfortable for certain readers. He’s a bi, Arab-Australian Muslim raised in a ‘broke and broken family’. And yet, though it could easily make for a rather niche readership, Sakr creates a collection of universally experienced moments in his debut collection ‘These Wild Houses’.
This is poetry at its most brutally beautiful, ripe with honesty and the sort of contemplation we’ve all had while sitting alone in the middle of the night, wondering about our life choices, or where we fit into the chaos of the modern world. ‘These Wild Houses’ is brutal in its honesty, and yet, heart-breakingly compassionate towards the subjects of Sakr’s musings.
It would be incredibly easy for Sakr’s work to be edged with rage- to rally against the Australian art of racism and homophobia, and let his voice become a weapon. And yet there’s a soulfulness and mercy here that’s staggering to behold.
‘These Wild Houses’ is the sort of poetry that lingers with you long after you’ve read the final page, and the sort you can’t help wandering back to. It’s comforting and compelling, while somehow being an unflinching conversation around many of the more complicated topics Australian society is currently struggling with.
If you love poetry that makes you think, and makes you feel, you’re going to need a copy of this. And if you love watching a masterful writer make magic with language? You need this book. Now.
‘These Wild Houses’ is published by Cordite Books (https://corditebooks.org.au/), and is available at the best poetry stockists (and if it’s not there, seriously: ask them to get it in), at readings, and festivals, and through the Cordite website. Omar Sakr does regular reading events, so check out his website (https://omarsakr.com/)/social media, because this is a poet you need to see perform.
Rating: 5 stars
Review by Kylie Thompson