Interview with Omar Musa

In January of 2012, I was lucky enough to conduct an interview with Queanbeyan poet and rapper, Omar Musa, over email. Seeing as I didn’t have a blog back then, this interview has taken a while to emerge, as I wanted to publish it when it felt right. Enjoy!

Omar Musa (ABC)

“Write in passion and edit in cold blood.”

1.      What inspires you to write?

People. Love. Redemption. Darkness. Place. Ugliness. Beauty.

2.      When did you know poetry was for you?

In primary school. It seemed the natural way to express myself
creatively. It was fun and short and sharp.

3.      Did you do well at English at school?

Yes. Primarily because I enjoyed it.

4.      What are you currently working on?

I am currently working on a hip hop album with my group MoneyKat and a
verse novel about a bushfire. I am also writing a lot of short
stories. It has been really exciting and challenging making the
transition from poetry and rapping into writing prose. It feels like I
am learning a new sport. I enjoy having a lot of projects going at one
time. It guards against boredom and writers block.

5.      Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?

Wow. Always hard to answer a question like that. I hope I will have
written a few books and recorded a few albums I am really proud of.

6.      What are your tips for wannabe writers and poets?

Read heaps. Write heaps. Write in passion and edit in cold blood.

7.      When did you perform poetry for the first time in public?

I first performed slam poetry in 2007 but I had been rapping for many
years. Slam poetry was a form I was aware of but had never considered
becoming involved in. I competed in the ACT poetry slam to make up
numbers and ended up winning. That kickstarted my interest in the

8.      Does your lifestyle of constant travelling to go to events
and festivals suit you or irritate you?

It suits me. I think I am a nomad at heart, so I really love
travelling out of a suitcase, meeting new people, exploring new

9.      When was your first big break as an artist?

Winning the Australian Poetry Slam in 2008 at the Sydney Opera House.
It gave me confidence, opportunities and cash that allowed me to
produce my very first album.

10.  Do you write when you feel like it or do you have a specific
time of day where you make yourself write?

I write constantly. I scribble ideas, images and rhymes down on scraps
of paper or in my phone. But the best time for my writing seems to be
between 2am and 6am, when everything is silent and I can really focus.
I don’t recommend this to anyone- my sleeping patterns are a mess! It
works for me though, so I have to accept that.

11.  What’s your secret to knocking down a writer’s block?

I have found that reading is the best way of overcoming writer’s block.

12.  Is fame important to you or do you simply want your work out there?

Fame is a very alluring and dangerous thing. When I was a lot younger
I craved fame, but now it isn’t important to me. I am content to be
respected and acknowledged by a small group  of people. Money is
better than fame because it allows you to keep the lights on and put
food in your mouth.

13.  How personal is your writing?

Everything I write is completely personal.

14.  Where would you be if you weren’t an artist?

I can’t imagine not being an artist. The arts is what I live and
breathe. But if I have to choose, it would be something to do with
animals. Maybe a zookeeper.



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