Diké Omeje 15/4/72 - 13/1/07

Photo of Diké Omeje 15/4/72 - 13/1/07

The highly original wordsmith Diké Omeje passed away on January 13th 2007, aged just 34.  He had been ill with Cancer for some time. Diké was a Slam Champion extraordinaire. His performances were by turns mesmerising; his audience first destabilised, then swept along into the flow of the poems by the sheer rhuthmical force and unexpected sharp metaphors. As a compere Diké was a charm to listen to, full of warmth and great smiles.  Literature Northwest extend our sincere condolences to Diké's family and friends. He will be greatly missed. 

Here Pete Kalu writes about the life of Diké Omeje, fellow writer and good friend.

Diké was educated at Royce Primary School, Hulme, Manchester, Burnage High School, Manchester, and Manchester Metropolitan University. 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 persuaded by Slam Competition 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 long time member of the Manchester based poets and musicians collective, Speakeasy, of which he became the Chair in October 2006. Diké performed frequently as part of Speakeasy at greenroom 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 Championship.

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 clarifying. 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 overriding 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 performance 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. 

Diké was an avid follower of the martial arts. He also had a good, though little heard singing voice. He was of the myspace generation and had a number of presences on the world wide web (see below). 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.


Obituary composed by Pete Kalu: cultureword@commonword.org.uk


Diké Omeje web presences:

myspace.com/artycoolate
speakeasymcr.com
www.cheersta.co.uk
www.urbanstreet.co.uk
www.shorelines.org.uk

Published work:

The Mindfield (Cheers Ta, 2003)
Crafting the Practice (Crocus,2004)
[also '...Mightier than the Sword' (self-published /Cherrybite,1997)]
BrothaTalk 2005
Nailing Colours (Crocus books)
Peace Poems (Crocus books)
Audio:
Heart(Voice)Soul-CD 1998
New Black Writers of Britain ?2000
Universe
The Mindfield

Website : http://ccgi.formidable.plus.com/cheersta/B4.mp3

Titles by Diké Omeje 15/4/72 - 13/1/07

The Mindfield cover image

The Mindfield

Diké has been a performance poet for 10 years. The Mindfield is his long awaited debut collection, a book that captures all the energy and ambience of his live performance. Its rhymes are addictive, subjects matter diverse and even if you have never heard him perform his voice clearly comes through.

"The poems carry themselves, even seeming to perform themselves - spoken cadences jumping off the page." - The Big Issue

Price £7.99

Details

  • ISBN 0 09536392 1
  • Publisher Cheers Ta
  • Genre Poetry

no cover image

Crafting The Practice

Diké Omeje is a highly original wordsmith and Manchester's unrivalled Slam Champion. To date, Diké has never appeared on stage reading from paper, though he queries the use of the term, performance poet. Dike's first collection, The Mindfield, was published by Cheers Ta. He performs extensively on stage, radio and TV and his work is available on CD.

Price £5.00

Details

Site by Oxidise