The Lost Arabs by Omar Sakr“How many times must one be born
before it is considered final? Poets know
not to mark the day. A thousand births
can take place in a year & a year
on some planets lasts a lifetime.”(23)
How we name ourselves, how we identify, how we exist: These are so incredibly pivotal to how we engage with the world. Omar Sakr knows this and in his collection The Lost Arabs explores his places and spaces in Turkish, Lebanese and Australian culture. In many poetry collections, there are a few poems that falter, only a few standing strong. Sakr however, is powerful, each poem punching and pulling you through. You hold your breath as you read.
The Lost Arabs follows Sakrs identity. He navigates his bisexuality, his relationship with religion, with his mother and father, with home, technology and a variety of other things. I only share a few similarities, but the ones I do, stand bold. Sakrs line by line lyricism locks you into place and urges you to keep reading. I fear I read this too fast, I hope I will continue reading this (and that future generations, students perhaps, get to study this and understand it on a truly visceral level).
all my knowledge is myth-made, media-driven,
an inherited memory washed by a generation of tired hands. (5).
The collection reads more like autobiography than anything. You get to understand Sakr at his heart. He refers over and over again to the poem or the poet reminding his readers of their reality. Beckoning them to question their own place. Their choices. He highlights the dangers of colonialism, of biphobia and warns us against potential futures, at the site of the future memorial a poem title repeating over and over again. Sakr employs repetition with power. Distinct and alarming. Alongside this, we are met with alliterative ambiance, the words dance off your tongue, I cannot comprehend how powerfully each is selected.
I keep looking to the world for a salvation
it has never known, keep winging towards a word
like water, a mirror, a mover, a matter, a mother,
a word closer to but not as smoothing as solace. (66).
I am haunted by Sakrs words. I can feel myself drifting into research and wanting to read up every bit of information I can about him, resonating on another level. The Lost Arabs will affect your very soul. In reading it, you will find your homes. Sakr has easily made it into my favourite poets and I will definitely be reading more of his work.
On the Way to Sydney, 7
Arabs in Space, 17
Instead, Memory, 31
Choose Your Own Erasure, 40
Do Not Rush, 50
Self-Portrait as Poetry Defending Itself, 66
How to endure the final hours, 79
Self-Portrair of What Graces the Night 81
Sakr. Thank you.
Songlines: Judith Wright and Belonging
To print the story please do so via the link in the story toolbar. This unit will be looking at how the Australian Identity is represented in poetry. However, before we begin to investigate any poems take some time to read over the following thoughts about the idea of an 'Australian Identity'. All countries create national myths and national identities which may or may not bear some resemblance to reality. In many cases, views of national identity may change or may be disputed At the time of Gallipoli, we had no doubt who we were.