Here are my launch notes:
– Met Omar in 2009 in Ubud, Bali, at the Ubud Literary Festival. He was funny, brash and cheeky. His spoken word poetry was rude, crude, witty, humorous, moving and different to so much of what claimed to speak for Australia. This was an authentic voice that wasn’t white, how bloody rare is that in our bland press?, and he demanded to be heard in the mainstream. His new book signals he’s not content waiting to be asked. He’s arrived with a bang and lashings of the word “cunt”. From the first page.
– His great poem, My Generation, is a work I constantly return to, with lines like this:
took solace in
false prophets who promised change
and did more of the same,
whose ideologies of optimism
were turned into
fridge magnets and bumper stickers-
YES WE CAN”
The false dawn of Barack Obama still resonates today.
– Here Come The Dogs is an Australia we rarely see or hear. It’s tough, edgy, masculine, multiracial, uncompromising, not beach obsessed, not polite, full of fucks and the youth. It roams around a country that we all know exists. Tony Abbott would not approve. His daughters, all dressed in white, virginal dresses on election night last year, would be appalled. It’s even more reason to love this book.
– Knowing Omar for more than five years, he’s often choosing between poetry, hip-hop, writer and playwright. We can now add author to this list. Here Come The Dogs has a rhythm that’s hypnotic, exposing an Australia that is ashamed of our past, questioning of our present and not overly optimistic about our future. Reading the book I found myself wondering why we don’t hear these perspectives more often. Blame the media. Blame the old editors. Blame the unadventurous. The Pacific point of view is almost invisible in Australian media. The loser is mocked not understood. The petty criminal is fodder for a Daily Telegraph cover. Omar injects humanity around all his characters but he doesn’t shy away from sometimes stomping on their hearts and dreams.
– This book makes me proud to be Australian because it doesn’t give a fuck about manners, and encourages eating our food with fingers and not a knife and fork. Napkins aren’t provided. It’s raw and all the better for it.
– This is an angry but tender book. Men dominate. Flames lick around all the characters. Uncertainty is in the air. Confidence is something to be mocked.
– I’m honoured to call Omar a friend and we’ve spent hours, in Australia, Indonesia and India, debating politics, the world and the finer points of Barry Obama’s foreign policy. Thank you for asking me to help launch your first book. The first of many, and I know you’re already planning the next one. May you offend every more people with it, a sign in my world that you’re achieving your aims.
– I encourage everybody to buy at least 5 copies of the book, for friends, enemies and lovers. It’s written in a language that soars. May it provoke concern in North Shore wives, excitement in inner-city kids, fear in private schools and trembling at the censorship board.