Most importantly, however, through his thoughtful, confident and rolling verse, he’s gone into the soul of Regent Park as that inner city neighborhood transforms in ways both disturbing and spectacular.
The neighborhood, often shunned, misunderstood and associated with crime and poverty, is Ahmed’s muse.
“It’s very important to my poetry, all the aspects…the people and the community,” Ahmed says.
“And as it transforms, that transformation also inspires my writing.”
One poem — entitled “Close” — was inspired by a visit to a friend’s hospital bed after he took a bullet in his leg, Ahmed says.
The dark piece, he says, is an examination of bad friendships and the destructive relations that were often forged in old Regent Park.
In a still boyish but sure and metronomic voice he recites:
“Close, like rotten corpses to broken bones,
Close, like jugular veins to diseases,
Close like hurricanes, like hurricanes to lives that you’ve spun into oblivion – you’ve spun us into oblivion.”
Ahmed began writing and reciting his poetry as a tiny 10-year-old as a means of communicating with his older sister Namarig.
“I literally spoke in poetry to my sister,” says Ahmed, now a lanky 6-foot-3.
“That became a means of conversation between me and her because she really wanted to communicate different thoughts to me and I began to reply to her in poetry.”