Tuesday, 23 January 2007

Dike Omeje, poet: 15/4/72 - 12/1/07

My friend the poet Dike Omeje has died. His passion to the last was poetry. Below is his obituary, All i can say is that we must live while we can, write those poems, make that love, and have our lives. Being creative is making love with life. Dear Dike love and peace to you.

He showed a love of language from an early age, and enjoyed sitting with his Dad reading newspapers at six years old. His first poetry performance was at Night & Day, Oldham Street, Manchester, 1995, when his talent was immediately obvious to those present.

He went on to become a leading light of the Manchester poetry scene, and an unassailable champion of the Poetry Slam format. Having won a series of Slams, he was persauded by Slam Compeition organisers, Commonword to 'retire' and host the Commonword Manchester Slams instead, to give others a chance of winning. He retired gracefully from competing in Commonword Slams. As host he exhibited an easy charm and steady professionalism, always trying to draw out the best performance from each contestant and careful never to overshadow them.

He was a longtime member of the Manchester based poets and musicians collective, Speakeasy, of which he became the Chair in October 2006. Dike performed frequently as part of Speakeasy at the Green Room in Manchester, pioneering much of his new work there, innovating style, structure and format and enjoying the collaborative process with other artists. Many of his most formidable performances took place at Speakeasy.

He was also a member of the Brothatalk poetry collective, which toured the UK regularly. The bonds between the Brothas were personal and well as professional and this was a key part of the group's success.

He self published his first collection, 'Mightier Than the Sword' in 1997. In 2003 Cheers Ta Publications published his collection, The 'Mindfield' comprising 37 poems accompanied by his own illustrations. Commonword published his third collection, 'Crafting The Practice', in 2004, his prize for winning the Commonword 2004 All Comers Poetry Slam Chamionship.

Although he loved Manchester, Manchester could not contain him and by the early 2000's he had a growing national reputation, despite being disinclined ever to 'market' himself. In 2005, Dike was invited by Apples and Snakes, the national spoken word organisation, to do the "Temptation" national tour, during which he charmed new audiences across the UK. and had started to receive requests across Europe and to build a transatlantic reputation.

His work was rhythmical, often attacking subjects from unusual sometimes humorous angles. He first destabilised his audience, then swept them into the flow of the poem. As the poem developed, the mystery would deepen to a point of total escape, before suddenly clarfiying. There were often spiritual and moral undertones to his work.

He was completely at home on the stage, where his charisma had a mesmerising effect on audiences. He completely commanded any space he performed at, and would take on and win over the toughest of audiences. He performed successfully at prisons, primary schools, youth clubs, academic conferences and night clubs. Off-stage, there was a genuine, inclusive warmth to his personality and a humility and self effacement that formed a paradoxical contrast to his stage presence. In an age of ego, he was a man without side, who never harboured grudges.

Although poetry was his over-riding focus in life, poetry did not always pay his bills. He worked for the Manchester branch of the Big Issue In The North for a short while, on Reception. He left that post as his writing career took off. He still supplemented his perfomance fees by working as a security guard across Manchester's department stores, a job he enjoyed. Although his stage presence was calm and hypnotic he showed a clean pair of heels when chasing down shoplifters before returning to discuss the nature of art with the more law abiding clientelle.

Dike was an avid follower of the martial arts. He also had a good, though little heard singing voice. At the time of his death, he had been recording work for a new national tour.

He is survived by his mother Regina Omeje, his sister Ngozi, his brother Amechi, his sister Ebere and ten nephews and nieces.

Tuesday, 2 January 2007

Live at the BARBICAN 2005

I have added footage from one of my shows from 2005 onto youtube, lookout for more films as time goes on.