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