The celebrated Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish once said, ‘every beautiful poem is an act of resistance’. Much of Darwish’s own work addressed themes of exile and displacement.
Poetry sometimes suffers from an undeserved reputation as something abstract, lofty or inaccessible – an art form that deals in metaphysics or dwells in the deeply personal. But politics – whether explicit or implied – have always played a part in poetry. Think: Shelley’s ‘The Masque of Anarchy’, Gil Scott-Heron’s ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’ and many more before and since.
Testing the limits of the form, the poem can be reportage, critique or even violent protest. In a conversation embracing various forms (from classical Arabic to contemporary spoken word), innumerable poetic heroes (from Darwish to C.D. Wright) and various political and personal struggles, four poets will offer their personal perspectives on activism in verse. Can poetry do things, politically, that prose can’t?
Join us for a different kind of conversation about poetry – gloves off, hands dirty.
Karl Lokko’s visit is hosted by Igniting Change.
Jacinta Le Plastrier is a poet, editor, publisher and essayist, and lives in Melbourne. She is also the Chief Executive Officer of the national poetry body in Australia, Australian Poetry, based at the Wheeler Centre.
Samah Sabawi is an Australian Canadian poet, playwright and essayist, originally from Palestine, now residing in Australia. She has written and produced the plays Cries From the Land (2003) and Three Wishes (2008) both staged successfully in Canada. Sabawi's third play Tales of a City by the Sea enjoyed a sold-out world premiere run last year at Melbourne's La Mama Theatre, and is set to be staged in three Australian cities in 2016. The play was selected for the Victorian Certificate of Education drama and theatre studies’ 2016 playlist and will is published by Currency Press. Samah Sabawi is co-editor of Double Exposure: Plays of the Jewish and Palestinian Diasporas for the Playwrights Canada Press. She is also co-author of I Remember My Name, an anthology of poems by three poets from Gaza (Samah Sabawi, Ramzy Baroud and Jehan Bseisou) edited by Vacy Vlazna and published by Novum Publishing. Samah Sabawi is currently developing her most recent play Them, a play about the lives of five people before a boat sailed from their war tone shores heading to Europe.
Karl Lokko is a 25-year-old former gang leader who has turned his life around and, drawing on the experiences and the extremes of his youth, is now a uniquely powerful activist/influencer in the UK. A poet, musician, writer and public speaker, Karl talks about leadership, inspiration and courage, traits he discovered in himself when caught up in the London riots of 2011.
Ali Cobby Eckermann is the first Aboriginal Australian writer to attend the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa in 2014. Her verse novel Ruby Moonlight was published in the USA in 2015 and a collection of poems translated and published in Kolkata, India. She returned home and launched her seventh book Inside My Mother in Alice Springs. In 2017, Ali was the first Indigenous poet to receive the Windham Campbell Prize for poetry from Yale University.
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