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10 September, 2019

Emotions range from tender and sad to laugh-out-loud funny and angry

A blackbox theatre is one of my favourite places for performances.

There are no distractions, just you and the performer.

It’s where you get that feeling of a “real” connection that only live theatre can give you.

With Omar Musa’s “Since Ali Died” there are so many connections to make.

Omar Musa is a poet, rapper and artist.

Ranging from love, family and best friends to modern politics, “Since Ali Died” is a reflection on contemporary Australia.

His combination of spoken word poetry, storytelling, rap, social commentary, even what seems improvised stand up comedy range in emotion from tender and sad to laugh-out-loud funny and angry.

Bookended and interspersed with the references to the great Muhammad Ali, “Since Ali Died” is less a bio of the boxer and more about Musa’s own search for identity.

A brown man living on black land in a white country is a rich tapestry from which to write poetry.

A highlight for me was his “UnAustralian” poem written in response to internet trolls but more broadly than that calling out how our so-called Australian values are so often hijacked by identity politics.

There’s also a hilarious riff on Mark Latham, the once leader of the ALP now leading the populist groundswell of One Nation in NSW.

There is also another and perhaps more intimate side to Musa – when he sings about being ghosted, when he laments the fate of his best friend, when he talks about his father, and most poignant of all – a car ride with his mother.

Critics have long lamented the downfall of poetry in the modern world but one need only see Musa in action to know that poets will always speak aloud what lies in our soul.