Coffs performance poet invited to perform with visiting international climate activists

Coffs poet Rataj ‘Taj’ Abdullah.

PERFORMANCE poet Taj Abdullah from Coffs Harbour joined an international act on stage in Bellingen earlier this month, in a show that focused on the global climate crisis.

Taj’s Eritrean family came to Australia twelve years ago as refugees from Libya, having fled war and persecution in their homeland.

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“Poetry has always been a means of expressing how I feel about the world,” Taj told NOTA.

“At times, it’s felt like my identity has been quite politicised, so I write slam poetry.”

‘Artivism At Sea: The Voyage of Arka Kinari’ was a one-night act which featured a live performance of storytelling, music and video.

It was brought to Bellingen by funding from Arts Mid North Coast through the Create NSW Regional Audience Development fund.

On stage, Grey Filastine from Spain (percussion/videography and narration) and Nova Ruth (vocals and electric guitars) from Indonesia spoke of their journey with global climate activists on their 70-tonne ship, the ‘Arka Kinari’.

The pair have sailed for five years, circling the world twice.

They have witnessed Indonesian ports which are obsolete because of the rising water levels, divided whaling communities who threatened to burn their ship, and survived “the doldrums” during the COVID period when all ships in international waters were stranded at sea and not allowed to dock.

Taj’s first poem was written when she was twelve-years-old, after feeling deeply impacted by the Christchurch mosque shootings of 2019.

“It was the first time I really knew about politics and it was an awakening for me,” she said.

“Poetry became a means of activism for me and becoming more informed about the world and being able to spread my experience with others.”

Taj has been part of the locally-run ‘All One Under the Sun’ program, a youth arts project that supports young people from diverse backgrounds to build resilience and stand up against racism.

She said it was the first time she felt her voice was heard.

Since then she has been involved in student activism with the School Strikes for Climate.

“A lot of young people have ‘climate anxiety’ and feel hopeless but coming together helps with that,” she said.

A member of the Bellingen Activist Network, Taj has written about her friends taking direct action to stop logging in the Orara State Forest, and has joined public demonstrations addressing the situation in Gaza.

“I feel so empowered tonight, it’s interesting that Grey and Nova still found hope through all the turmoil they went through,” Taj said at the Artivism At Sea event.

Taj is seventeen and School Captain in her last year at Coffs Harbour Senior College.

Following school she has plans to attend university, studying International Relations and Politics.

She is also organising the upcoming Concert for Climate at the Coffs Harbour Education Campus.


Rahma Hasan with her daughter Taj, with Grey Filastine and Nova Ruth from Artivism At Sea and Alfira O’Sullivan, an Indonesian dancer from Stuarts Point.

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