Two of the Festival’s most electrifying poets go head to head in the ultimate poetry showdown. Evelyn Araluen squares off against award–winning Millefiori author and rapper Omar Musa to debate all things poetry. In three action-packed rounds, they examine whether technology is shaping poetry for the better, whether poets should tell other people’s stories, and whether schools are teaching the wrong poetry. SWF Youth Curators Sina Aghamofid, Ali Al Haj and Layla Mkhayber moderate this exciting event. There can only be one winner. You decide!

Programmed with SWF Youth Curators. Supported by the City of Parramatta and the Department of Family and Community Services

Omar Musa (Australian)

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Omar Musa is a Malaysian-Australian author, rapper and poet. He has won the Australian Poetry Slam and the Indian Ocean Poetry Slam. His novel Here Come the Dogs was longlisted for the International Dublin Literary Award and Miles Franklin Award. Musa was named one of The Sydney Morning Herald’s Young Novelists of the Year in 2015.

Evelyn Araluen (Australian)

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Evelyn Araluen is a poet, teacher and researcher working with Indigenous literatures at the University of Sydney. She has written poetry and criticism for a range of publications, including Overland and Southerly. In 2017 she won the Nakata Brophy Award for Young Indigenous Writers, and in 2018 won the Judith Wright Poetry Prize. Born and raised on the Dharug lands of Western Sydney, she is a descendant of the Bundjalung nation.

Sina Aghamofid (Australian)

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A passionate human rights advocate and an avid volunteer, Sina Aghamofid is on the Headspace Youth National Reference Group, hosts a radio show, does slam poetry and is the recipient of a Young Citizen of The Year Award, all while going through the HSC! Sina is not afraid of talking the tough topics and aims to ignite constant discussion regarding change…and to bore everyone with his obsession with The Project!

Layla Mkhayber (Australian)

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Layla Mkhayber is a Lebanese spoken word poet, activist and student at the University of Sydney, who utilises poetry as a medium to stand in and speak her truth. Layla has performed at the Sydney Writers’ Festival (2017), the Bankstown Poetry Slam Grand Slam (2016 and 2017), the Queensland Poetry Festival (2017) and the spoken word theatre show Right Here Right Now (2017).

Ali Al Haj (Australian)

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A UNSW student, ninja, fitness fanatic and poet, Ali Al Haj, is an advocate of breaking stereotypes and reducing stigmas. He has performed at Parliament House, a White Ribbon event, was the support feature poet at Bankstown Poetry Slam’s September event, and in December 2017, performed at his second consecutive Grand Slam.