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
"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."