Break the temples, shrines, the mosques
If it’s breakable, break it all
What’s left is hearts where God resides
~ On a Dot, Avaes Muhammad
What is it about the poetry of Baba Bulleh Shah, Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai, Baba Farid – some of which was written as early as the 12th century – that still moves hearts ages and oceans away?
“It’s genuinely timeless work”, says Avaes Mohammad. “I am a British Asian, and the Sufi poetry of South Asia speaks to my core”. Avaes, a playwright and spoken word poet will be presenting his new collection of poems against the musical soundscapes of guitarist and percussionist Jaydev Mistry, in Nuqta: Reflections of a Dot at the Rich Mix on Saturday. A celebration of both the timelessness and universality of Sufi poetry, the performance is Avaes’ response – in English – to the Urdu, Punjabi and Sindhi Sufi kalaam he has grown up listening to.
Why English? Sufi poetry – with its emphasis on love as the only way to know the divine, and understand the mysteries of creation – has always sought to bring people, including those of different religions, together. “As a poet, I’ve always drawn inspiration from Sufi poetry, but as I’ve grown to understand it more, I’ve realised that it speaks to today, and to so many of the challenges we face” says Avaes.
Nuqta aims to draw out that universal message. To present Sufi poetry – whose deliberate simplicity aims to elevate the every day to the sacred, and to move the heart – as one answer to today’s complex divisions and hatreds.
Engagement with issues of social justice and understanding is at the heart of Avaes’ work. One of his most well-known pieces is the spoken word performance Bhopal, for which he received an Amnesty International Media Award. Here he is performing another beauty Clash (at 2:00 if you want to skip the intro).
Back to this weekend’s performance, it’s appropriate to sign off with Avaes’ words:
“One of the things we can be most proud of as South Asians is the middle road. Kabir, Baba Farid, Guru Nanak belong to everyone. Their message is not just our cultural inheritance – it was meant to serve everyone”.
When: Saturday 4 March 2017, 7.30pm
Where: Rich Mix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Road, London E1 6LA
Tickets: £10 (+ £1.50 booking fee). Concessions available
More info: Rich Mix
By Seema Khan
Posted on 2 March 2017