Omar Musa

Omar (bin) Musa was born in 1984 in Queanbeyan, New South Wales, Australia. His mother is a well-known Australian cultural journalist; his father is the Malaysian poet Musa bin Masran. He studied at Australian National University and the University of California, Santa Cruz. Musa’s literary work mostly focuses on the themes of migration and racism in Australia, violence, virility and loneliness. Musa’s poetry is characterized by an instillation of hip-hop. Musa finished second at the 2008 Australian Poetry Slam before winning the competition in 2009, which was held at the Sydney Opera House. He recites his texts in collaboration with various musicians and hip-hop artists such as Kate Tempest, Daniel Merriweather, Kate Miller-Heidke, Akala and Soweto Kinch.
Omar Musa has thus far published three volumes of poetry: »The Clocks« (2009), »Parang« (2013) and »Millefiori« (2017). »Parang« means »machete« in Malaysian; in the more than four years since this volume appeared, Musa has been carrying out unbiased research on the rapidly changing here and now – the world of his Malaysian origins – while also addressing the themes of migration, belonging and dreams. The title »Millefiori« is both a reference to the well-known glass paperweight and an invocation of thousands of flowers as a symbol for goodbye; the volume is a collection of love poems and forlorn rap. In an interview Omar Musa said: »It’s a book of goodbyes to remember childhood, a goodbye to lost relationships and a goodbye to an ageing generation of people my age, so there is sadness in it but there’s hopefully beauty in it as well.« Musa’s debut novel »Here Come the Dogs« appeared in 2014. Written as a mix of poetry and prose, the story focuses on three young men in a small Australian city. The men, of various ethnic origins, are united by their passion for rap and graffiti. Solomon has authority and charm; his half-brother Jimmy follows him around meekly, waiting for the moment when he can shine; and Aleks, their boyhood friend, came from Macedonia to Australia as a child and feels no sense of belonging in either his old home or his new one. Musa’s coming-of-age novel depicts the awakening of characters – three men who remain dreamers despite their anger and their propensity towards violence. At the end, the ashes from a brush fire set by Jimmy rain down over the city – a symbol of a new, fiery beginning.

»Here Come The Dogs« was nominated for a number of prizes, including the Miles Franklin Award and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and won the People’s Choice Award at the ACT Book of the Year Awards. The author lives in Australia.