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Suheir Hammad Suheir Hammad has been described as “a new voice with an authentic blend of language that’s her own,” and her poems have received wide acclaim. She is the recipient of an Audre Lorde Writing Award, an Emerging Artist Award, and a Tony Award as an original cast member and writer for Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry Jam on Broadway. Hammad’s poetry often engages “culture, conflict, and consciousness,” which is not surprising given her background. Born in a Palestinian refugee camp in Jordan, she immigrated to Brooklyn at the age of five. She travels abroad frequently, as a poet and activist, and has read her work at universities, on the BBC, on NPR, and in prisons. Her books include the poetry collections Born Palestinian, Born Black and ZaatarDiva and a memoir, Drops of This Story. Silence I wonder what he heard as he ran wonder what he thought as the american bullets flew from israeli hands through god’s air to murder another one of freedom’s sons he didn’t look back did he hear the loud strong voices of our women voices so clear 107 1CHARARA_pages_i-164.qxd:Layout 1 11/14/08 2:36 PM Page 107 songs so sad so beautiful strained drained by years of crying (singing) Ishad ya, dlam alena wa d Beirut Ishad il hdrb il shabiyeh (Bear witness world to us and to Beirut Bear witness to the War of Liberation) did he hear the angels who’d proclaimed the birth of jesus in that same land angels singing songs of heaven angels who arose from the earth after dying too young in the name of palestine ran so fast as his brown feet touched loved touched loved the brown earth did he hear his mama singing him to sleep he had lived with his eyes seen so much palestine occupied freedom denied my people’s genocide seen with his eyes felt with his heart struggle of life under army boots 108 Suheir Hammad 1CHARARA_pages_i-164.qxd:Layout 1 11/14/08 2:36 PM Page 108 palestine alive (singing) Wa men ma shaf bil ghorban ya Beirut Aman ayoon Amreeciya (And those who don’t see through the sieve Are blinded by American eyes) not been blinded by american eyes saw it all and he knewwhat did he hear as he ran so used to running we are it seems we palestinians are always running where do we go never looking back Ishad ya alam alene wa a Beirut (Bear witness world to us and to Beirut) they warned him to stop called out in the name of democracy and violence called out in the tongue of the ancients to halt his running they fired their american made bullets did he hear them from israeli hands through god’s air Suheir Hammad 109 1CHARARA_pages_i-164.qxd:Layout 1 11/14/08 2:36 PM Page 109 into palestine’s son (singing) they labeled it an accidental but necessary death when discovered this son of palestine had been born deaf (singing) Wa men shaf bil ghorban ya Beirut Aman ayoon Amreeciya 110 Suheir Hammad 1CHARARA_pages_i-164.qxd:Layout 1 11/14/08 2:36 PM Page 110 exotic don’t wanna be your exotic some delicate fragile colorful bird imprisoned caged in a land foreign to the stretch of her wings don’t wanna be your exotic women everywhere are just like me some taller darker nicer than me but like me but just the same women everywhere carry my nose on their faces my name on their spirits don’t wanna don’t seduce yourself with my otherness my hair wasn’t put on top of my head to entice you into some mysterious black voodoo the beat of my lashes against each other ain’t some dark desert beat it’s just a blink get over it don’t wanna be your exotic your lovin of my beauty ain’t more than funky fornication plain pink perversion in fact nasty necrophilia cause my beauty is dead to you I am dead to you not your harem girl geisha doll banana picker pom pom girl pum pum shorts coffee maker Suheir Hammad 111 1CHARARA_pages_i-164.qxd:Layout 1 11/14/08 2:36 PM Page 111 town whore belly dancer private dancer la malinche venus hottentot laundry girl your immaculate vessel emasculating princess don’t wanna be your erotic not your exotic First Writing Since 1. there have...


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