Local Somalian poet performs at Fringe Festival

Local Somalian poet performs at Fringe Festival
Spencer Fowler Steen

Mohamed Sudi, a spoken word artist from Somalia, will share his stories through poetry at the upcoming Melbourne Fringe Festival, enthralling audiences with a variety of tales from his homeland and around the world.

Moving from Somalia to Kenya, to Saudi Arabia, and then to Malaysia, the trilingual author and slam poet now lives at the North Melbourne public housing estate with his mum, dad and eight siblings.

Mr Sudi said his upcoming solo show titled Dhulka of Poetry would be performed in Arabic, Somalian and English, so audiences were granted an intimate window into his wealth of personal stories.

 

I’m trying to make an impact on the community. I want to show people to not be afraid that you can share your story too.

 

A veteran announcer performing at many gig venues for more than a decade now, and becoming one of five Melbourne grand finalists in an “Africa’s Got Talent” competition in 2015, Mr Sudi published his first poetry collection book called Somalia Too Soon! last year.

He also made an appearance in Live On Bowen 2014, a variety show produced by RMITV aired on Channel 31.

But for Mr Sudi, it’s not about the accolades or becoming famous. It’s about building bonds with his local community to help stave off social isolation through spoken stories.

Before COVID struck, Mr Sudi, 31, ran a poetry night once a month for people in the local African community. Here, people were given the opportunity to share their stories in a creative and fun way.

“Dhulka is about connecting the community in North Melbourne where a majority are Somalian. I want to have a positive impact to show at least every person has a story to tell,” Mr Sudi said.

“Poetry is mainly performed in pubs, but these people are Muslim. They’re isolated, so that’s why we did it in the community centre in Flemington which they were familiar with it.”

“They can at least see that they don’t need to be shy, and sometimes that comes from poetry.”

Although many know Somalia for its gruesome civil war which Mr Sudi and his family fled in 2006, people familiar with the wedge-shaped African country protruding into the Indian Ocean have called it “a nation of poets”.

Mr Sudi explained that many Somalians communicated using poetry before they could write, with the English alphabet only introduced through British colonialism.

“Somalia is a nation of poets – we resolved conflict using poetry,” he said.

Mr Sudi has worked in hospitality to support himself through school and tertiary education, having completed a Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care, all the while honing his artform through constant learning and performance.

But his first foray into the world of show business wasn’t an instant success.

“I used to do stand-up comedy using poetry in nursery rhyme style. But it didn’t quite work out with the comedy.”

Mr Sudi has recently applied for a grant through the state government’s Paving The Way Forward program to fund a poetry class once a month for six months for up to 25 students from Kensington, Flemington and North Melbourne.

Emilie Zoey Baker - an award-winning Australian poet, educator and spoken word performer – has agreed to teach the classes.

While Mr Sudi waits to hear whether his grant is approved by the government, he’s working at a restaurant in Albert Park and preparing for his upcoming show.

He said Dhulka of Poetry would feature a variety of stories focusing on Somalia, but also the recent Christchurch shooting in New Zealand, the pandemic, the Olympics and anime to name just a few.

Utilising different poetic styles such as haiku and slam poetry, Mr Sudi’s performance will be held in October over four nights (COVID-restrictions notwithstanding) from October 6 until October 8 at 7.15pm at the Trades Hall, Carlton.

His performance on Tuesday, October 5 will be accompanied by an Auslan interpreter. While most of his performance will be in English, some will be in Arabic and Somalian with English descriptions on slides.

The performance is wheelchair accessible •

The Bridal Lament opens at Arts House

The Bridal Lament opens at Arts House

May 15th, 2024 - Georgie Atkins
Like us on Facebook