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 award-winning playwright, author and poet. Her critically acclaimed play Tales of a City by the Sea was selected for the 2016 Victorian Certificate of Education Drama Playlist, won two Drama Victoria awards for best new Australian publication and best performance for VCE and was nominated for Best Independent Production at the Green Room Awards. The play was staged to full houses and standing ovations in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Malaysia, Canada and Palestine and is on the study list of a number of universities and schools around the globe.
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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