Non-Essential Work

Non-Essential Work

In this exciting follow-up to his acclaimed collection The Lost Arabs, award-winning poet Omar Sakr delves deep into his loves and losses to create a riveting literary experience. Asking questions of timeliness and timelessness, ranging between the present and the past, Non-Essential Work is a restless and relentless volume that showcases a poet unquestionably in his prime.

‘Omar Sakr writes ferociously fine poetry so alive it trembles on the page. Feel its muscle of pacing, the richly woven weave of story/mind/leaping wild cries steeped in strong tea. “Loneliness feels like family once/you have known it long enough…” or “Everything is a miracle when you are alive./ I am learning that against my will.” Such honest sorrow, love, truth, swirling in the same rich brew, such history studded with humor, the “non-essential” is clearly sly humility. Vastly political in the most intimate way, it’s impossible to draw any borderlines here between great, and great.’ – Naomi Shihab Nye

‘When Omar Sakr writes of stretching “past pain to find poetry, the way home” in his compelling collection, Non-Essential Work, one recognizes that at the heart of his well-wrought, elegant lyric poetry is a quest for the trust between the poem and the reader, to build a shared “home” in poetry. Sakr is disarmingly generous in opening his body and experience to us in poems that willingly test the value of this art, and that ultimately become prayers that settle in on this: “Take us back to … where this world is moved wholly by love.” Sakr is one of our essential poets.’ – Kwame Dawes

‘Omar Sakr’s Non-Essential Work renews the lyric mode as a way to contend with the world. I trusted that each poem would change me a little, and they did. The book amounts to a “beautiful hour” that makes “colossal ruin” into a good enough reason to live. A stunning achievement by an inimitable poet.’ – Billy-Ray Belcourt

ISBN: 9780702265884

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"In his third collection, Omar Sakr's work is polished to a razor sharp point."

"Non-Essential Work is essential as a mode of not only processing contradictions but working towards resolutions, and often using European forms (sonnet, sestina) to displace the colonial authority of form—and to hopefully liberate."

Son of Sin

Son of Sin

Poet Omar Sakr’s debut novel is a fierce and fantastic force that illuminates the bonds that bind families together as well as what can break them.

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.

ISBN: 9781922711038

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"Tender, candid, vivid... Son of Sin is Jamal's internal fight spilling painfully and poetically onto the page - cut through with a hunger to destroy that which oppresses us."

"Simultaneously heavy and beautiful, this novel will appeal to fans of Ocean Vuong."

"Here we have an Australian bildungsroman of genuine heart, guts and mind, full to the brim with brio and bona fides, one to add straight to the canon."

"Sakr has a poet's sensibility, and he writes haunting images and insights worth lingering over."

"A darkly comic family saga... [Sakr] is funny and unapologetic, creating epic, stunningly dirty narratives that should appeal to a new generation of Australians."

"Son of Sin is an uncompromising and compassionate novel, an embrace of all those in predicaments like Jamal, and a bracing rebuke to all who fail to see them."

"Sakr is a talented storyteller with a keen sense of character development."

"The novel is beautifully written... It is a remarkable achievement. Sakr writes with grace and power and, speaking as a Sydneysider, it is a delight to see the city through his eyes."

"Each sentence is infused with poetry, and not to the detriment of the book as a longer work. With this novel, Sakr captures the complexities and darkness of a queer youth in which acceptance is hard-won, if present at all."

"Every line is just heartbreakingly perfect... I've never read anything like this, I'm glad that it exists and I just want to shout about it from the rooftops because it feels so vital right now."

The Lost Arabs

The Lost Arabs

Visceral and energetic, Omar Sakr’s poetry confronts notions of identity and belonging head-on. Braiding together sexuality and divinity, conflict and redemption, The Lost Arabs is a seething, urgent collection from a distinctive new voice.

This book knocked my breath away, winding me with its pain and damage, yet all the while filling me with the exuberance of reading poetry of such wisdom and dazzle. The tyranny that we can inflict on each other, the harms of family and history, the need for solace and belonging find perfect pitch in line after line of this magnificent collection. There’s an urgent need for this book, it should be on every shelf.’ – Judith Beveridge, author of Sun Music

In this collection Omar Sakr writes words to enhance the world, elegiac windows of soul from one who has travelled and seen, requiring a gentle understanding of that which is not gentle, nor can it be. The Lost Arabs is the poetic posture of a man in all his forms standing by the eternal river, who has placed both feet in the sand, and who refuses to sink.’– Ali Cobby Eckermann, author of Ruby Moonlight

‘The new and powerful voice, public, performative, but also vulnerably intimate, of one of our “children of elsewhere; painfully confronting the ambiguities of country and heritage, and testing in the boldest terms what enterprise there might be, as Yeats put it, in “walking naked”.’ – David Malouf

ISBN: 9780702260360

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"These poems are at once complex and accessible, using a wide range of poetic techniques and forms, and employing richly evocative language. They emphasise the interconnectedness of human affairs: sexuality and spirituality, ethnicity and identity, courage and terror. Some of them are grounded in rage, others in compassion and gentleness, but all of them acknowledge the complexities of their subject matter, and many of them are works of great subtlety and beauty."

"The Lost Arabs shines as a collection with focus and coherence, while showing Sakr’s mastery of a wide, and deftly-applied, range of poetic techniques. The poet is ever-sensitive to the possibilities of ‘the line’ and the rhythms of language, and there are unexpected and startling conjunctions, creating some jaw-dropping caesuras."

"This is writing at its most electrifying and damaging. Sakr’s voice is prophetic yet achingly vulnerable, apocalyptic yet filled with ludic joy. The poet orients his readers to the intractable silences in language while also exposing them to the bruising possibilities of poetic speech... Sakr’s poems skilfully draw readers through slow riots of desire and deeply mystical experiences, while excoriating the brutal legacies of globalising power structures."

"Whether with love or violence Omar Sakr’s The Lost Arabs commits itself wholly, body and soul, to poetry. He writes with sensuous passion and an almost brutal conviction. Sakr continues to explore his own space (and ours) within the poetics of defiance. Whichever way you turn the questions will remain in front of you, resonant, emotive and very current."

"In this collection Sakr reveals himself to be that rare beast: a poet with something to say and the means to say it. This is a book of poetry that surges and whispers and shouts and demands to be read in a sitting."

"His words are a pure and powerful testimony to human intimacy, and the radical, altering act of creating, despite immense communal and individual loss, oppression, and otherness."

"Omar Sakr’s latest poetry collection is as thrilling as it is accomplished. It is rare for such a collection to be a page-turner but his poetry demands to be read, digested and re-read soon after."

"Sakr’s landscapes are simultaneously earthed, fleshy, sexual, and they are existentially and politically questioning. But ‘‘questioning’’ seems too ordinary a word for the incendiary, devastated places this poetry visits."

"Sakr's poetry is empowering, affecting and beautiful."

"The Lost Arabs is a remarkable and essential work. In a disenfranchised and dislocated country of flesh and spirit, Omar Sakr shows us ways to reclaim, how to hear and maybe hear beyond the 'barking angels', the brutality of dispossession and familial disconnection."

"[The Lost Arabs] is intimate, vibrant, beautifully composed and engages creatively and powerfully with a whole host of concerns and themes intrinsic to understanding the modern world."

"Omar Sakr's second poetry collection is an assured and vibrant exploration of doubt and faith."

"The Lost Arabs presents some of the most important and representative Australian poetry right now."

"...The harmony Sakr evinces between political commitment and the aesthetic of the poem recalls Vladimir Mayakovsky and some Wisława Szymborska. His work invests Oppressed Immigrant consciousness with a broad context informed by the same spiritual concerns that drove Rilke or Tagore."



Series 2, book 3 of 10

“This is not a definitive statement on Islam. This is not a definitive statement on Arab identity, not Arab Australian identity, not bisexuality, not even Western Sydney. It is a statement – an exploration of me and what I’ve seen.” – Omar Sakr

Read Judith Beveridge’s introduction to These Wild Houses.

ISBN: 9780975249277

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"These Wild Houses tests out the poetics of demotic language, combining thoughtful commentary with moments of sentiment and moments of rage. Both incisive and decisive, it offers a forensic examination of Arab Australian masculinities, and the effect of place and politics and desire. At times skilfully restrained, at others powerfully unbound, passion often salted with little flares of mirth, this intelligent and exciting collection speaks out, and powerfully articulates, twenty-first century urban identities."

“Sakr writes about his immigrant experience in Australia, his life as a bisexual Muslim, environmental destruction, the everyday racism he encounters, and the larger issue of systemic racism in Australia... He explores family, tradition, place, and marginalization with breathy lines that end in small punches to the gut.”

“Sakr’s work is vital: it is the here and now even as it speaks of and to eternity. Like the word emblazoned briefly across the Sydney Harbour Bridge and chalked in gorgeous copperplate across the pavements of his hometown, his poetry is merely a finite gesture towards the infinite: but what a glorious, breathtaking, and magnificently-human gesture it is.”

“This first collection confronts us with emotionally complex and often ambiguous poetry that belies a simple reading, claims considerable territory for itself and demonstrates Sakr’s ambition and ability.”

“Sakr permits us to mine his personal store of images as they arise, like the phoenix, out of suburban conflict. The poetry, politics and history scorch a new path in Australian poetry.”

“These Wild Houses has a reader-centredness that at once invites and resists intimacy. The poems seem like direct tellings, where ‘you’ feature. At the same time, the collection is inward-looking – a playful and skilled balance Sakr strikes through his storyelling and linguistic incisiveness.”

"These Wild Houses sees a disarming honesty matched by an acuity of poise, nuance and craftsmanship."