These Wild Houses | Omar Sakr: Book review

I know you’re probably sick of reading collections of gorgeous, heart-wrenching poetry by bisexual Sydney-born Arab Australian Muslims, but… perhaps you’d like to try Omar Sakr’s These Wild Houses, anyway? Your answer to this might be, “But how is this one different to all the others I own?”

I’m glad you asked. Here, have some reasons:

  1. These Wild Houses is about splintering families, boyhood trauma, identity, arresting grief, and so much more.
  2. Omar will crack open your chest and perform precarious heart surgery on you, before you’ve even opened the book. (See the cover prose, taken from Dear Mama.)
  3. The first poem, Door Open, sets the scene: what do our minds and bodies house, what do our houses house, and where and when will we find the lock and key?

There are other stand-outs. Not So Wild­ grips us in that tense prison, between community violence and social silence when your own house is not okay. Here Is The Poem You Demand demanded so much of me, and I’m glad it did; I read it again and again. Election Day will make you laugh-despair at the final line. The H Word tells of hiding when you’re collecting oppressed identities and brings new meaning to the cover picture.

In case you’re undecided, I’ll leave you with the following stanza from Not So Wild, which scored runner up for the Overland 2015 Judith Wright Poetry award:

‘Some days you came out of the house

crackling with storming boyhood, furious

without cause, cursing every leaf and branch

and stone – why are we here, why do this now?

Small wonder, I never knew what to say, cupped

wriggling worms in a small pool of mud

to distract you instead,

to lead away

everyone heard but chose to swallow, knowing

our own houses were tinderboxes and the roar

of their flaming would come sure as the sun.’

These Wild Houses is available from Australian small press, Cordite Books. To order a copy, visit


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