Writers from the Boundless festival choose the author who has most inspired their writing and reading

The writer who has had the most profound impact on my mind is the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). I haven’t read the Holy Quran in full and, anyway, the text is said to be God’s as delivered by the Archangel Gabriel, but it is a book full of stories and ideas, and those stories and ideas have shaped my Turkish forefathers and my Arab foremothers, have stamped their tiny footprints on my DNA, and also crab-walked their way out of my aunties’ and uncles’ and cousins’ mouths as I grew up, so no matter how I turned, some echo of divinity or devilry haunted my flesh.

In truth, I cannot tell you where those stories begin and I end, nor have I had the courage to pick up the Book and thread my way through the labyrinth to find out for sure. Here’s one fact to which I cling: the Archangel Gabriel’s first word to Muhammad, an illiterate Arab, was ‘Read!’, a command of such power I’m sure it reverberated through generations of blood and diaspora to hit my small dirty body as it lay cowering in Western Sydney.

Omar Sakr is an Arab Australian poet, and author of These Wild Houses. Published in English, Arabic and Spanish, he also has recent poems in Overland, Meanjin, Peril and Island.