An estranged father. An abused and abusive mother. An army of relatives. A tapestry of violence, woven across generations and geographies, from Turkey to Lebanon to Western Sydney. This is the legacy left to Jamal Smith, a young queer Muslim trying to escape a past in which memory and rumour trace ugly shapes in the dark. When every thread in life constricts instead of connects, how do you find a way to breathe? Torn between faith and fear, gossip and gospel, family and friendship, Jamal must find and test the limits of love.
In this extraordinary work, Omar Sakr deftly weaves a multifaceted tale brimming with angels and djinn, racist kangaroos and adoring bats, examining with a poet’s eye the destructive impetus of repressed desire and the complexities that make us human.
I picked up this book at an event at the State Library last year and I honestly wish I’d read it sooner. This was such a heartbreakingly beautiful read. I flew through it in just over two days and was completely immersed for every moment.
Told in parts, across main character Jamal’s life as he grows to try and accept himself and navigate his world. Each section felt distinct with subtle changes in narrative voice to indicate as such. On the whole, I feel I connected more, and so, more enjoyed reading the earlier half of the novel. It didn’t take away from the ending for me in any way, but I did find the earlier sections of the novel more impactful.
With this novel, Sakr treads the line between poetry and prose wonderfully. It is easy to tell that he is a poet – his use of language to evoke emotion in his work feels rather lyrical. Making the emotions that much more tangible to me as I read. While this is a work of fiction, there is something painfully real, and honest in Sakr’s words.
I highly recommend this novel. There is something intoxicating about the use of language in this novel which has stuck with me well after I finished reading. I will most definitely be on the look out for anything else Sakr publishes, as well as having a look for his poetry too.
Earlier this week I had the pleasure of attending the book launch and poetry reading for the anthology ‘Best of Australian Poems 2022’. This is the second in it’s series, an anthology from the national poetry organisation Australian Poetry (AP) that celebrates Australian poets and their poetry.
…Best of Australian Poems 2022 strives to bring together 100 of Australia’s most poignant, original, and challenging works…
Best of Australian Poems 2022, Jeanie Leane and Judith Beveridge (ed.) – Foreword, pg. V
The night was an absolute delight to attend, and was an example of how wonderful the creative minds of Australian poets can be. Several of the poets chosen in the anthology were selected to read their featured poem. There was such a wide range of poetry forms read throughout the evening, and all poems were engaging and thought provoking.
I ended up purchasing both the collections for 2021 and 2022 and I am really looking forward to being able to take the time to read through them both over the weekend. So expect a possible post about them in more detail soon. From what I heard on Tuesday night, these will be very enlightening reads.
Collectively the poetry in this book tells an important part of Australia’s story.
Best of Australian Poems 2022, Jeanie Leane and Judith Beveridge (ed.) – Foreword, pg. IX
With the quality of Australian poets and poetry displayed on Tuesday evening, I will certainly be attending the book launch for the next anthology from Australian Poetry.
Align your soul and spirit with this beautiful collection of poetry straight from the author’s heart. Written by Allie Michelle, this edition includes her author notes that convey the energy she experienced when writing these poems. Inspiring and powerful, Allie’s words will sweep you off your feet delivering the message that YOU are a cosmic being.
I’ve started to read more poetry lately, so when this caught my interest I decided to give it a go. Now that I have finished this collection and had some time to think about it, I am still not completely sure how I feel about this one.
I found the pieces flowed well and connected with each other beautifully, but it felt to me as if not every poem was as strong or as moving as it seemed it was intended to be. In saying that, not every poet or poem is for everyone. This collection is just not quite what I needed it to be. So it could be, and I am sure it will be, exactly what someone else might need when they pick it up.
I definitely did have some favourites in this collection though, including: ‘From Lonely to Alone’, ‘Purpose Beyond Perfection’, ‘human’ and ‘do not tell me of who you know’. I especially loved the little snippets of musings which were placed after some poems, these, I felt, were just as poetic as the poems themselves. I would say though, that they should have been printed a little clearer, I had trouble making some of them out. (Though this is more a fault of printing than of the writing itself.)
Overall, while I did not love this collection of poetry, but I can see the passion and care that went into writing these poems and into putting them together, which I appreciate. I am sure this collection will find the right person when they need it most, once it makes it’s way into the world.
Thank you to NetGalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing who sent me this eARC (eAdvanced Reader Copy) in exchange for an honest review. This title will be published on 14th September 2021.