The Official Bio
Alia Gabres is a Melbourne-based poet and storyteller. Currently working in arts programming at the Footscray Arts Centre, Alia is also undertaking her masters at the Victorian College of the Arts – with a main interest in using arts practice as a site for knowledge generation and cultural transmission.
She was part of the Global Poetics Tour in 2011 with New York slam champion Mahogany Browne and others. The following year she featured as part of the Please Resist Me tour with National Slam Champion Luka Lesson and acclaimed poet Joel McKerrow.
Alia was curator of the spoken word explorations series Tell It Like It Is throughout 2011, and recently co-produced the sell-out One Night Stanza poetry evening at the Sydney Writers’ Festival with U.S. guest poets Anis Mojgani and Ken Arkind.
In 2012, Alia was the City Libraries Poet in Residence and speaker at the Youth Week closing ceremony at The Wheeler Centre. More recently, Alia was teaching artist-in-residence with Minor Disturbance youth slam team in Denver, Colorado. She also produced an intergenerational narrative development project in California – entitled Our Parents were Children Once – with acclaimed poet and academic Mark Gonzales.
She is currently recording her début poetry and sounds album, due for release in 2014.
The first time I saw Alia Gabres perform was onstage at a live-to-air 3RRR performance with Dave Graney, Mark Seymour and Jane Clifton in 2011. Alia was dynamic, powerful, and one of those indelible artists that command attention immediately. She is both parts fresh and wise. Any time I play her video ‘She Cotton Summer Dresses’ to teenagers they see this instantly and understand her story with a deep recognition. She is illuminative hip-hop, poet, storyteller, sage. Alia’s passionate words come through in well-crafted script. I love it when you hear a voice that always seems new. I want to be Alia when I grow up.
I started falling in love with words when…
I started writing when I was eight or nine. I was fascinated with the idea that I could create a world from my imagination. I wrote short stories and kept a journal. It was just something I did for myself. Eventually I started to read more and had to start handing in assignments. It was then that I started being told that certain books were “too hard for me”, or asked if I got “help” from anyone to write this or that. So my love for writing really grew from stubbornness or feeling like I had a point to prove.
The first time I knew I was hooked was…
When my parents started confiscating my books and I would sneak into their room to read a few pages every time they went out.
Poetry (or spoken word) means…
Poetry is the glass jar that you use to catch a firefly. A jar that captures a feeling, a moment, something so forcefully magical and fleeting and intense.
Other poets I adore are…
Pablo Neruda, Maya Angelou, Warsan Shire, Sunni Patterson, Ursula Rucker, Aja Monet, Anis Mojgani, Omar Musa, Luka Lesson; and the 15-year-old student who told me he couldn’t write poetry, then described the twentieth floor in his public housing estate flat as “the place where all the ghosts live because it is the closest to heaven”.
I love the sounds of…
My grandmother absent-mindedly singing or humming.
If I could tell you one thing…
Fall in love with your own story. It’s infectious.
Alicia Sometimes is an Australian writer, poet, musician, co-host of 3RRR’s Aural Text and a past editor and long-standing contributor of Going Down Swinging (co-editing issues No. 18-No. 23 and contributing to issues No. 14-No. 17 and No. 25-No. 29).
Photo by Jeevi Ka