[Two men, one of whom is the poet Abe Nouk, shake hands on stage against a black backdrop. Abe adjusts the height of his microphone stand. Camera pans in as he performs his poem.]
Abe Nouk: Dear Dad.
Nine years of illiteracy and now I can finally write to you.
There is so much to say and it’s a cliche but would you believe it,
I’m on a stage right now?
Others would not understand the depth of how much of an accomplishment this is.
Nine years ago when we first arrived in Australia, I could only say ‘yes’ and ‘no’ and I even go the two mixed up, most of the time.
Abe: Believe it or not I’m not a poet yet
And I don’t think I will be any time soon.
From the public spectrum it’s worrying how I embody emotions with my writings and
Even when I don’t mean it
People feel it.
Maybe I need to lighten up,
Say a few jokes and keep the crowd entertained.
What good will that do,
Making people feel good only to realise I didn’t tell the truth about who I am and where I’m from.
It’s hard to explain that nine years ago we would have been on a boat heading anywhere where there is freedom.
And guess what, Dad?
A year after you died we were granted the refugee status so we flew here.
Can you believe it?
I can’t because I’m waking up every morning thinking,
That could have been us on those sinking boats and even after reaching the shores they would have made sure we were treated no different from everybody else.
It’s silly how they want those arriving by boats to validate that they are refugees.
As if getting on a boat some half a continent away
Is for a holiday.
They don’t want to understand.
They fail to see the desperation.
This is not a play
This is life, and some of us just want to live.
I set an example for myself and I will always follow
That if I ever lose sight of what really matters, then I don’t deserve the freedom, let alone the speech.
Keep on reminding them that I am not a refugee
But a lucky bastard who’s young and free.
Abe: And if I ever lose sight of what really matters
Then my ungratefulness is felt, and that’s the great injustice.
[Audience applause and cheers]
[Screen shows white logos for State Library of Victoria and State Government of Victoria against a black background.]