Peoples Geography — Reclaiming space

Creating people's geographies

Suheir Hammad in Palestine: poetry

pal_logoPalestinian-American artist Suheir Hammad, previously featured, is currently appearing at the second Palestine Festival of Literature, which as you may recall the zionist entity has tried to disrupt and shut down.

Thanks to Marcy Newman, who is in attendance and has a great write-up along with audio she’s recorded of Suheir’s always excellent spoken-word performances, we have more of this wonderful poetry as performed in Palestine.

Here are four of Suheir’s poetry readings at the Festival, the first three in English and the fourth short poem mostly in Arabic, as well as a video clip.

Gaza poems (8.23)

“Break is this” (1.15)

Breaking poems: Windbreaker, Transition, etc (6.55)

Ma ba3rif aktob bil arabi (3.00)

Certified – Suheir Hammad in Ramallah – PALFEST 2009 (2.57)


By Suheir Hammad

Complexion Medium Certified

not too sweet not quite hot not too black not quite white

what was so middle about her

hands detangled parted and quilted

thick black waves

into braids rolled

grape leaves with style and speed

scrubbed ovens knees and backs of ears

clean with love nails always looked neat

but on closer inspection chipped and tugged tired

her voice singing um kolthom to foreign raised ears

Certified Citizen Natural Complexion Medium

how would hips be categorized


or nose semitic

would your butt be your

african trait eyes indian hair mulatto tongue arab

mama you natural woman

of sun water air

given a nation though no land

palestinian woman loss embroidered on your forehead

more than thin -ass pieces of paper which

never certify your aspirations

dreams heartbreaks

you can make vegans eat your lamb with relish

rip your heart out to feed your man

you who makes rhinestones

sparkle diamonds sequin your daughters? ears with your laugh

memorized (but didn’t have) dead presidents backwards

and forwards for citizenship a place to lay your head

but always told us

take me home when i’m dead

woman natural medium middle to nothing

never can they certify

what they don’t


2 comments on “Suheir Hammad in Palestine: poetry

  1. thanks for posting this. it is unfortunate that suheir seems to be the only element of this festival that is palestinian or that deals with palestine at all. definitely the highlight so far.

  2. Brooklyn Poet
    2 December, 2009

    I am such a fan and admirer of Suheir’s; thank you so much for posting this poem.

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This entry was posted on 26 May, 2009 by in Audio, Palestine, Poetry and tagged , .

Timely Reminders

"Those who crusade, not for God in themselves, but against the devil in others, never succeed in making the world better, but leave it either as it was, or sometimes perceptibly worse than what it was, before the crusade began. By thinking primarily of evil we tend, however excellent our intentions, to create occasions for evil to manifest itself."
-- Aldous Huxley

"The only war that matters is the war against the imagination. All others are subsumed by it."
-- Diane DiPrima, "Rant", from Pieces of a Song.

"It is difficult
to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there"
-- William Carlos Williams, "Asphodel, That Greeny Flower"