Omar Musa is an absolute dynamo of an artist. And artist is the best job description to give to a man whose way with words stretches from written poetry to spoken word slam work, to more than twelve years of experience in the rap world. Now, the poet and MC can add novelist to his titles. Unity Books Wellington was lucky enough to play host to Omar’s first visit to Wellington, where he read excerpts from his newly released novel Here Come The Dogs before engaging in a Q and A session with an enraptured crowd.
Describing his home town of Queanbeyan, New South Wales as ‘the Soweto of Canberra’, Omar kept up a lively pace, peppering the readings with anecdotes from his own life and the Australian backdrop that the book is set against.
His years of MC-ing and poetry performance have helped create an engaging and energetic style of reading, with gestures and aside comments (like quoting lyrics that could only be referenced in print ‘or I’d get done’) keeping everything fresh, even for those in the crowd who had already read his work.
His language was colourful (‘Sorry for swearing so much – actually, I’m not sorry at all.’) and hilarious (‘I think I should get a writer’s residency at Queanbeyan McDonalds.’) while the passages he read from Here Come The Dogs varied from beautiful to brutal. He did not shy away from any of the questions asked by the crowd, recounting various tales of his past and the writing experience, including his shenanigans while spending time with Irvine Welsh. In his book and in his interactions with the crowd, he is certainly successful in his aim to create something that’s ‘poetic but accessible’ as well as ‘tackling issues but not a polemic’.
Reviewed by Briar Lawry.