Omar Musa

BA (Hons) '06
6 April 2018

If I can change the way a few young people express themselves, and help them find their voice when otherwise they might have wandered through life feeling voiceless, then that is no small thing.

Omar Musa is a Malaysian-Australian author, rapper and poet from Queanbeyan. His poetry and music are concerned with the way racist and misogynistic language impacts marginalised communities.

"Australia is a young nation that is trying to figure out what it's about and what its nature is. It is a society in flux. As a result, a lot of us who are a product of this society are also in flux and are living on the hyphens between different descriptors of what our identities are. I'm interested in those uneasy, uncomfortable places: the in-between places."

Omar is the former winner of the Australian Poetry Slam and the Indian Ocean Poetry Slam. He has released four hip hop records, three poetry books (The Clocks, Parang and Millefiori), appeared on ABC's Q&A and received a standing ovation after a slam poetry performance at TED X Sydney at the Sydney Opera House.

He has also been involved with mentoring young people and encouraging them to find self-expression through the arts.

"Growing up in Australia I noticed that, as young men, we were often encouraged to express ourselves in a very limited way, either through the physicality of sport or fighting; things that could often turn destructive. But there is a real alchemy that occurs when you're able to take feelings of rage and frustration and turn them into something incandescent and ecstatic."

Omar's debut novel Here Come the Dogs was published by Penguin Australia in 2014 and was longlisted for the International Dublin Literary Award and Miles Franklin Award. He was named one of the Sydney Morning Herald's Young Novelists of the Year in 2015.

"Ultimately what the arts gives us is that feeling and realisation that we are not alone."

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