Omar Musa is an Australian rapper and writer – he’s had success releasing music and as a performance poet. He’s recently written a novel and is a poetry slam winner. The son of an Australian journalist and a Malaysian poet you have to assume the word – the written word, printed word, spoken word – was part of his life from the earliest moments. Musa is just 30 years of age and has already accomplished a great deal – across more than one medium. But clearly it’s about the word – that informs and drives his style as a musician. And then there’s a musicality (as well as actually musical references) that peppers his words for the printed page.
Parang is Musa’s most recent book of poems, it arrives to “shoot a dark from a blowpipe into the throat of the past”. Musa is concerned with his Malaysian heritage, the culture and people. He sends out an elegy to Irish immigrant Jill Meagher. A broadcaster and radio administrator raped and murdered on her way home in Melbourne in 2012. Abducted in the street. Musa’s words are wise, tender. He doesn’t ever try to solve problems. He doesn’t have answers – only questions.
When reminding us of the power of storytelling, the enormity of it, he says “A story never dies, even when breath is no longer ours./It stays trapped under a century, or on the floor of a dark sea, waiting for a new teller”.
These are powerful poems – their pull is forward propulsive, you hurtle through these words, they all but flick by you the first and second time. It’s a book that not only requires several readings – a slim volume, easy to work through, enjoyable to return to – it pretty much begs you to take it on board across several sittings and re-readings.
I look forward to tackling his novel next. This guy is a real talent.