Suheir Hammad’s breaking poems //
Suheir Hammad’s breaking poems breaks ground (for Arab-American writers), breaks rules (of language), and breaks bonds (with outdated notions of identity).
When I first opened the pages of breaking poems, I knew to expect brilliance; knowing Suheir’s previous works Born Palestinian, Born Black, Drops of This Story and ZaatarDiva, but I wasn’t prepared to actually see the lines moving, breaking and being pieced together again as Arabic flowed fluently into English and back again.
Check out this excerpt from the poem “break (clear):”
is the poem
lived in one fractured poem
a relic of war
ana no one’s soldier
ana no one’s instrument
ana own music
ana own muse
khalas all this breaking
After my 6Qs with Suheir, I had to ask how the use of language for breaking poems had come about. She said simply: “I decided I wanted to write more like I speak and think.”
The form these poems take on paper somehow legitimize that hybrid, half-English half-Arabic, ‘Arabi mikasar (broken Arabic), that generations of Arab-Americans have come to speak. It is an eye-opening collection, break into it here.