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The Poem That Started It. Omar.

Omar high fiving a newly minted poet-in-training at The Bookworm

Tonight, Omar Musa takes poetry to a next level. Come experience the former Australia National Slam Champion in person at The Bookworm (8pm). Bring your friends, family, coworkers. Bring complete strangers you see on the street. He’s that good.
Have you ever wondered what makes a person love poetry? What makes them decide that instead of pursuing fame on the big screen or fortune on the trading floor, they are going to  spend their lives hustling for the love of something as ephemeral (though powerful) as the spoken word?
Here Omar shares the poem that started it all:
Impossible to say which poem made me love poetry, but “Porphyria’s Lover” influenced me a lot when I was younger. I was about 16 when I first read it. In both hip hop and poetry, I have always been drawn to storytelling done in a way that was deceptively simple (“Today Was a Good Day” by Ice Cube is what got me into hip hop), especially that which deals with the darker side of man’s nature. “Porphyria’s Lover” taught me that not all poetry has to be a confessional diary entry – I realised you could inhabit characters and become an entirely different person. It also attracted me because of the startling imagery, the vision of a man gone mad and the absolute shock of the moment the persona murders his lover. It was exhilarating to realise that words could make a reader shudder in that way. Accessible but crafted language is since something I’ve always aspired to.
“Porphyria’s Lover” by Robert Browning
The rain set early in to-night,  
  The sullen wind was soon awake,  
It tore the elm-tops down for spite,  
  And did its worst to vex the lake:  
  I listen’d with heart fit to break.          5
When glided in Porphyria; straight  
  She shut the cold out and the storm,  
And kneel’d and made the cheerless grate  
  Blaze up, and all the cottage warm;  
  Which done, she rose, and from her form   10
Withdrew the dripping cloak and shawl,  
  And laid her soil’d gloves by, untied  
Her hat and let the damp hair fall,  
  And, last, she sat down by my side  
  And call’d me. When no voice replied,   15
She put my arm about her waist,  
  And made her smooth white shoulder bare,  
And all her yellow hair displaced,  
  And, stooping, made my cheek lie there,  
  And spread, o’er all, her yellow hair,   20
Murmuring how she loved me—she  
  Too weak, for all her heart’s endeavour,  
To set its struggling passion free  
  From pride, and vainer ties dissever,  
  And give herself to me for ever.   25
But passion sometimes would prevail,  
  Nor could to-night’s gay feast restrain  
A sudden thought of one so pale  
  For love of her, and all in vain:  
  So, she was come through wind and rain.   30
Be sure I look’d up at her eyes  
  Happy and proud; at last I knew  
Porphyria worshipp’d me; surprise  
  Made my heart swell, and still it grew  
  While I debated what to do.   35
That moment she was mine, mine, fair,  
  Perfectly pure and good: I found  
A thing to do, and all her hair  
  In one long yellow string I wound  
  Three times her little throat around,   40
And strangled her. No pain felt she;  
  I am quite sure she felt no pain.  
As a shut bud that holds a bee,  
  I warily oped her lids: again  
  Laugh’d the blue eyes without a stain.   45
And I untighten’d next the tress  
  About her neck; her cheek once more  
Blush’d bright beneath my burning kiss:  
  I propp’d her head up as before,  
  Only, this time my shoulder bore   50
Her head, which droops upon it still:  
  The smiling rosy little head,  
So glad it has its utmost will,  
  That all it scorn’d at once is fled,  
  And I, its love, am gain’d instead!   55
Porphyria’s love: she guess’d not how  
  Her darling one wish would be heard.  
And thus we sit together now,  
  And all night long we have not stirr’d,  
  And yet God has not said a word!   60

Photo Gallery – Interschool Poetry Extravaganza!

On Friday, YCIS and ISB wordsmiths displayed their poetry chops at The Poetry Project’s Interschool Poetry Slam. They were, in a word, amazing.

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