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No reason:

Nila Nesakulasingam shares a poem about self-acceptance and love. An experience we all identify with......

Prologue:

This poem is about the clashing of a crucial aspect of oneself: self-acceptance. Often overlooked, this process can often look negative or pessimistic, but it is an aspect that many people experience at least once in their lifetimes. 

(Credit: Pexels | Thought Catalog}

No Reason

You say I’m quiet 

You say I’m far

You say I withdrew from what we once cherished 

I don’t blame you 

Not a word I’d disregard, 

Love isn’t my cup of tea

But neither is patience for you

I’m trying my hardest to be there

With little knowledge of what’s meant to be

With no reason, I somehow love you as much as I love me, maybe even a little more

But you want it all 

Sorry darling, that’s a bit expensive 

You say you want to leave

You make me think I want to run away

You make me believe the lie

I believed it, I don’t regret it

It taught me how to love better

Taught me the value of another 

But why so harsh? Tore a wound in me,

A wound that hurts and leaves me sleepless,

I hear you, but ouch, I’m bleeding tears

I’m trying my hardest to be there,

With little knowledge of what’s meant to be

With no reason, I somehow love you as much as I love me, maybe even a little more

But you want it all, 

Sorry darling, that’s a bit expensive

The price one pays for the well-being of a relationship, 

Is the price one would pay to risk being in love,

But I love you while risking it all, 

Actions speak louder than words they say

Perhaps my actions meant nothing so far,

I tried to save me at the cost of your pain

My ignorance, tore you down

We both bleeding tears, just different reasons

We are trying our hardest, I know

With little knowledge of what’s meant to be

With no reason, we love each other as much as we love ourselves, 

But we need more than that, 

Love each other enough for two,

Stop dividing the love and multiply instead 

What’s meant to be will unfold on its own,

The steady flow of our love, may it teach each other to keep going, keep seeing, keep feeling our warmth,

You, I need, I, you need

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Creating Yourself 

  I bid farewell to the Atlantis above And explored the expanse of the sea I found the sound of my own breath comforting It reminded me that I am...

Photo supplied from Pexels.

 

I bid farewell to

the Atlantis above

And explored the expanse of the sea

I found

the sound of my own breath comforting

It reminded me that I am alive

I had never felt so alive

Yet so calm

Peaceful, in a trance

Enchanted by the

schools of brightly coloured fish

and the striking coral

 

Taking a big breath

I watched as the

the bubbles danced to the surface

I swam into an unknown

Deeper

And deeper

I was interrupted from my trance

Reality greeted me with a sucker punch

I couldn’t stay here forever

As much as I wanted to

 

The oxygen would run out of the tank

The only thing I could hear

Was my heart exploding

Air

I needed air

It was running out

Black spots in my vision

Sharp pains in my chest

I swam up and broke the stillness

sucked in the pure salty air

I desperately wish I could return

To the schools of brightly coloured fish

and the striking corals

But that was for another day

I had spent too much time

bewitched by the sea

I withdrew to my boat

And watched as the world

crumbled apart like a disaster cake

They should know not to have too much dessert

Or else they’ll become heavy with despair

Greed consuming their hearts and minds

Burdened by their own corruptions

 

Rotten to the core

But maybe that’s exactly what they want to be

so they can divide and conquer

I had already metamorphosed

into a decent human being

But, some people are like monsters

Contaminated with evil and corruption

Their hearts turn black like charcoal

of the transgressions they commit

I’m disgusted with the drama and dirty politics

The vile decisions people make to get where they want to be

 

My remedy is the sea

The sea is my escape

My addiction, obsession

without it I would fall apart

Some people are kind and genuine

They have hearts of gold

Their sincere actions reflect their speech

Their speech is like pure honey

It heals wounds and fights radicals

 

However don’t be fooled

These people have steel cores

If you throw a jab

They won’t be afraid to throw one back

They know their duty in the world

It’s stamped into their minds

 

To help people

And make the world a better place

What do you want to do with your life?

It’s up to you

Your actions and words can impact thousands of people

Albeit good or bad

That’s your choice

That you have to make

I gazed into the magnificent sunset that touched the horizon

Intense hues of pinks, oranges, blues and greens blended together

As if the sky had been an empty canvas waiting to be splashed with colour

 

Tea in hand

I sipped out my worries

They flew from the prison of my mind

Like birds that had received their freedom

Tomorrow I will venture into the sea again

With hope of finding something new to discover

Because ultimately all that you can do,

After everything has been done,

is Hope.

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Poem: Far-away lands, sugar-cane and coconut palms

The suffering of my ancestors is etched in my skin. ...

Far-away lands, sugar-cane and coconut palms

A poem by Navishkar Ram

Photo by Nur Andi Ravsanjani Gusma from Pexels

The suffering of my ancestors is etched in my skin

It follows me no matter how hard I run

It wants to break through

And bloody my body

Red

I’m drenched in blood

Their screams and pain are mine

The remnants of Empire

Islands that are all-green

Ploughed with coarse hands

Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian hands

Scarred with the remnants of a once warm embrace

Sugar-cane and coconut palms

Wafts of tortured souls

Swaying in the breeze

The breath of empty lives moving them seaward

Looking forever towards home

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Poem: The Little Voice

The Little Voice A poem by Navishkar Ram Photo by Vijay Sadasivuni from Pexels   Every breath is like swallowing razors. Each gulp tears, Rips...

The Little Voice

A poem by Navishkar Ram

Photo by Vijay Sadasivuni from Pexels

 

Every breath is like swallowing razors.

Each gulp tears,

Rips and gashes.

Each word winds its way down

Deep into the pit of your stomach.

Makes a home there and rests.

Walking out your door,

You tremble, nervous as you observe

The eyes of the world

Of your neighbours,

Your friends and strangers

Unclothe you from head to toe.

Scratches begin forming.

Your throat tightens

The razor speaks

He is an evil –

Insidious creature.

He doubts you

You listen.

You believe.

Until nothing in this world is ever true anymore

To you

Your wishes

They are lost.

Your truth becomes a drop in the ocean of tears-

That you, yourself have created.

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Bankstown poetry slam: a place to connect

How Western Sydney youth are rewriting the narrative through poetry....

Bankstown poetry slam is unlike anything you’d expect.

Nothing about the slam is censored, and there are absolutely no boundaries around how individuals choose to deliver their message. You can stomp, yell, dramatically pause, sing, or flail your arms as passionately as possible. The content and form of their performances are limited by their own imagination.

One event alone can offer the audience insights into personal thoughts and experiences related to religion, heartbreak, racism, and anything outside and in-between.

With the events comprising of mainly youth, their stories provide an artistic opportunity to educate, challenge, heal and connect. While prejudices among Bankstown and its people can run-heavy, the youth are determined to retune and rewrite this narrative.

Attendees and performers of the events have connected so deeply with the performances and experience, that slamily has become the term for their ‘fans’ and regular attendees.

Bankstown Poetry Slam event
Source: BPS website

Bankstown’s misunderstood narrative and culture

Situated in Sydney’s West – Bankstown is a culturally diverse melting pot. A 2016 report from the Australian Bureau of Statistics report highlights this, with its main ethnic demographics ranging from Vietnamese and Lebanese, to Pakistani and Bengali. Additionally, Bankstown’s affiliation with Islam amounts to eight times more than the national average.

Bankstown’s unique diversity has often been met with various religious and cultural prejudices and stereotypes, unfortunately stigmatising many of its residents.

“Traditionally, Sydney’s Western suburbs have been associated with all the markers of poverty and disadvantage, and a distinct lack of cultural sophistication… More recently, as Western Sydney has become increasingly multicultural, the stereotypes have focused more on ‘ethnic crime’ and immigrant ‘ghettoes”, says Josephine Parsons to The Guardian.

A long-time resident (user name Impact) of Bankstown reviews Bankstown on Homelyacknowledging that Bankstown’s negative perceptions are influenced by the high crime rates. Nonetheless, the user adds there have been significant improvements over the years.

“Bankstown is changing,” says Impact  “There have been horrific stories, arson, stabbings, store robbings.. but the old picture of crime is leaving at a fairly fast pace” Impact adds.

Other Homely reviews on Bankstown are a fair reflection of the polarised views encompassing the suburb. While some state that Bankstown is “not a safe place to live or even visit”, others refer to their authentic and friendly multicultural residents and community. Despite the positive progressions made, the negative and outdated perceptions can often overpower.

Despite the positive impact and coverage of the Bankstown poetry slam, politician Mark Latham labelled the slam an “Islamic political group ranting hatred towards Australia and our institutions”. This shows how such a positive platform can be turned to reinforce the surrounding narratives.

Sara Mansour
Source: The Guardian

With co-founder Sara Mansour raised in Punchbowl, a suburb next door to Bankstown- she has admittedly lived throughout this narrative, relative to much of Bankstown’s youth.

Being an Islamic female, she admits that the formative years of her life were blemished by feelings of division and exclusion to The Guardian.

My generation grew up against the backdrop of 9/11, the Cronulla riots … and the Lindt cafe siege,” says Mansour.

“The media and politicians have constantly targeted the Muslim community, bolstered their campaigns with us, made us the subject of their clickbait articles and their front cover sensationalist headlines,” Mansour adds.

Re-writing the narrative

“It feels like a protest every time I got up on the stage” – Sara Mansour, The Guardian.

 

21-year old Egyptian Pola Fanous is a spoken word poet from Western Sydney. All in 2018, Fanous debuted his first book STRONGSOFT and won the Australian Poetry Slam Final.

Pola Fanous in his element
Source: Word Travels

“BPS and I grew together- them as a platform and space, me as an artist”, says Fanous. In his poetry, he draws on topics related to cultural and social identity, addiction, mental health, and fighting expectations of masculinity.

“[At the slams] I feel a deep ethnic sense of belonging. Most people are Arab and most voices are from Western Sydney” he says, which he admits provides him with a lot of encouragement on that basis. 

While many would not think Bankstown and the arts are synonymous, Fanous states that the slam is challenging this perception that Sydney’s West has little to offer.

Streets of Cairo I’m a stranger, streets of Sydney I’m a danger”

Similarly to Fanous’ experiences with the slam, 21-year old Leila Mansour also feels a deep sense of empowerment and belonging to express her emotions and thoughts at BPS.

Leila Mansour performing “Where does your accent come from”
Source: Bankstown poetry slam YouTube account

As a regular performing poet at Bankstown poetry slam, she shares that her poetry has themes of patriotism, social justice, identity struggles, politics, and mental health.

Mansour states that the monthly events have provided the youth of Bankstown and Western Sydney the platform to defy some of the “unfortunate” stereotypes surrounding the area and its residents.

“It has solidified Bankstown as a force to be reckoned with and challenge whoever underestimates its community”.

For artists like Fanous and Pola, they are educating others while re-creating their own stories by artistically portraying their life challenges and experiences.

“There are so many people that come from diverse and marginalised backgrounds that don’t have anyone in the public eye that can positively represent them, so they task themselves while doing it,” she says, referring to the preconceptions reinforced by mainstream media and politics.

Nonetheless, Bankstown Poetry slam has made positive and powerful impacts on its community and beyond its borders. Through their highly successful Real Talk program, they mentor high school students from different schools to write poetry related to their personal struggles, experiences, and thoughts. This enables them to express themselves in a healthy and creative way.

Bankstown poetry slam has even sparked the inspiration for the 2018 Australian drama film called Slam, where Mumbai-born director Partho Sen-Gupta admits he enamoured and ‘struck’ by one of the performances. His own preconceptions were challenged by the notion that Muslim women are oppressed and submissive, through the female performer’s strong and powerful demeanour. He mentions that these views were influenced by mainstream media, according to an interview with the SBS.

“You tell me Muslim women are silent, but all you do to us is silence and erase”

… “You tell me I’m breaking stereotypes, but why do you stereotype me in the first place”

BPS performer Layla, They call me a good muslim.

Bankstown poetry slam is essentially becoming a renaissance for today’s youth, encouraging them to find a creative outlet to educate, express, and heal. By courageously telling their own story, they have begun to rewrite the narrative and ultimately slam the stereotypes.

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Flip the Script opens up a stage for young performing artists in Sydney

A new opportunity for young performing artists in Western Sydney has once again risen from the roots of Bankstown, with the aim to have their “disen...
A new opportunity for young performing artists in Western Sydney has once again risen from the roots of Bankstown, with the aim to have their “disenfranchised” voices heard.

Flip the Script is the latest project of the Bankstown Poetry Slam (BPS) that opens up a stage for anyone under the age of 26, to perform their artistic practices through an open mic performance.

“With respect to young people, I think poetry is a great tool that can be used to help them address whatever it is that they need to address.” Sara Mansour, the co-founder of BPS, said in an interview with Create NSW.

According to Bilal Hafda, one of the committee members of BPS, young people of a diverse background and culture are typically spoken for, making it hard for their own voices to be heard.

“There should be an opportunity for young people to speak their mind on things that are already established… but they don’t have that opportunity because no one opens it up to them.” Hafda said.

Flip the Script came about through discussions by the BPS committee to have an open mic event for the younger generations who attend the slam but might be intimidated to perform, Hafda says.

“You also need a kind of sense of community that gives the opportunity to speak and who is an ear that will listen to you,” he said.

The performers can showcase their talents through many art forms such as poetry, music, storytelling, and stand-up comedy.

They also receive “on the spot feedback” from the hosts, and encouragement throughout and after their performances by the audience, Hafda says.

“We would open up that space for them and just get them to apply their art and… practising so that they would feel more confident to do that in the kind of wider range.” Hafda said.

The free event is held monthly at the Bankstown Arts Centre, and also offers these young people the ability to network, allowing them to meet new people with common interests, and to be a part of a community.

“People from our community feel that they have a safe space that they can regularly return to, to share their poetry, to vent, and to validate their lived experiences.” Mansour said in the interview with Create NSW.

Photo: Bankstown Poetry Slam Facebook page.

There are a variety of themes in the performances, where the topics range from love to politics, from religion to sexuality, each portraying an important message the performers would like to be heard, according to the organisation.

“That whole general sense of it being this is something that I want to talk about and I’m going to write a piece and I’m going to perform,” Hafda said.

17-year-old Hannah Tulk, is a performer at Flip the Script, and says it is the only event she could find in her area that is “spot on” in targeting young people.

“They give young people a platform and a voice to tell other people what they think,” she said.

Inspired by other performers at Flip the Script, Tulk built up her courage over months of sitting in the audience, until one night she finally stepped foot on that stage herself.

“Poetry is a great way for people to express their emotions and their thoughts and I think that Flip the Script is just one the best places to do that,” she said.

She performed at the May Poetry Slam and came second in the top four performances of the night, placing her in the Grand Slam at the end of the year.

“I’m trying to tell people my experiences with mental illness and pain and suffering, as well as trying to be encouraging and helpful to others who have similar struggles,” she said.

The monthly Slam attracts two to three hundred people a night, whereas Flip the Script draws a much smaller crowd, fluctuating from 40 audience members to just three, but Tulk says it makes it feel more welcoming and “like a family”.

“They remember you, your name, your face and your poetry…” Tulk said.

Photo: Bankstown Poetry Slam Facebook page.

Disclaimer: There is no relation between the author and the source.

Written by Chanelle Mansour