Shelves: poetry I just started reading Suheir Hammads breaking poems yesterday evening, and already, its so great to witness all of this breaking. Her syntax is broken, her lines are clipped, and her poems are bombardments of images and words, demonstrations of brokenness and piecing together of selves, of languages, histories, and geographies. Really, the point of the collection thus far for me has been the reassembling of the many selves, in a continuum of war against poor people, against folks of color, against immigrants, against women, and the self is all of these things which cannot be extricated from one another. I had to use her book for my ENG college class and I absolutely hated it.
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Hammad is a strong political activist, and much of her poetry is about the struggles of different classes of minorities struggling to make it through any given day.
As a woman and a minority herself, Hammad has been able to take her experiences with each and put them into words with poetry. In each of her poems, Hammad is able to suggest that while her cultural backgrounds may conflict, she will always maintain her own set of ideals based on what she, and she alone, thinks is right. In her book breaking poems, Hammad combines her American language and Arabic language, and combines them to form new sounds and meanings.
The words are choppy and seem to not be in any specific order. The poem continues with the same type of choppy beat, making the readers think of a rap song, but with stronger words to create an enforced meaning. One important observation to notice among these two is that Beirut is not capitalized.
Not capitalizing Beirut supports and strengthens this idea. One other notable observation is that beats is a word with strong reference to music, while Beirut has a strong reference to Palestine. The distinct sounds that this particular poem has when recited are a beat, but containing the words of her heritage. These words stand out because of the political turmoil existing in Palestine, and the devastating Gaza Strip and bombings.
The speaker describes a normal situation, and then a sudden bombing on what seems to be an innocent person or group of people. The Gaza Strip is one of the most dangerous areas between Israel and Palestine, where most of the bombings occur and people are severely injured.
The events from September 11 have scared the American people since, and the speaker here describes their feelings against this judgment. She can feel how she is judged and provides support for those feelings. Regardless of the desire, the new world will never be new because of the history and the inability to move on. Hammad is creating her own language throughout each of the poems because neither language is entirely agreeable.
Suheir Hammad has another book called ZaatarDiva, which she tributes to her days of being a young child in Brooklyn and already knowing that she was an outsider. Hammad has always been an independent thinker, ever since she was young. She remembers when she went to school and saw all the other children eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiched, while she ate traditional Palestinian foods, such as zaatar, that her mother made for her Paul. Throughout the poem, the speaker is defying someone or something.
From her history and the words used in the poem, it can be assumed that the speaker is defying what her culture may expect her to become. The speaker discusses how she will not give up her soul or life to something that only takes those things away.
The next few lines read: I will beating. I know that beat. It is lifeless lines The conflict between Palestine and Israel involves many suicide bombers and armies, and the Muslims expect followers who will offer themselves to their cause in the war.
Using this line, a reader could plausibly argue that the speaker is defying the expectations surrounding her Muslim culture. By saying that she will not create a beat or do something a certain way for someone, can support American culture and what can be expected from performers.
These lines also support the theme that the speaker values her life and her rights greatly. The poem finishes off on a strong note: I will not be played. I will not lend my name nor my rhythm to your beat.
I and resist and dance and persist and dance lines In these lines, the speaker is letting her own desires come out and be known. She is allowing them to be more important than what anyone else wants of her because she knows that she has the will to do so. She is creating her own beat, her own dance contrary to what her people want. Suheir Hammad is a deep, insightful poet. Her words are strong and can find a place of comfort or agreement among every person.
Hammad had started small and unknown on Russell Simmons HBO Def Poetry Jam show, but she has grown into a worldly influential figure through her political poetry.
Works Cited Hammad, Suheir. Breaking Poems. New York: Cypher Books, Hammad, Suheir. Handal, Nathalie. Interview with Suheir Hammad. Paul, Anju Mary. Feb
Anticipating: breaking poems by Suheir Hammad
Hammad is a strong political activist, and much of her poetry is about the struggles of different classes of minorities struggling to make it through any given day. As a woman and a minority herself, Hammad has been able to take her experiences with each and put them into words with poetry. In each of her poems, Hammad is able to suggest that while her cultural backgrounds may conflict, she will always maintain her own set of ideals based on what she, and she alone, thinks is right. In her book breaking poems, Hammad combines her American language and Arabic language, and combines them to form new sounds and meanings. The words are choppy and seem to not be in any specific order.
Suheir Hammad, 'breaking poems' (Cypher Books, 2008)