Hammad, Suheir 1973-
Hammad, Suheir 1973-
Born October 25, 1973 in Amman, Jordan; immigrated to the United States, c. 1978.
Author. Writer and cast member, Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry Jam on Broadway, 2003. Performer with The All That Band and Rhythms of Aqua; producer of documentary film Half a Lifetime; scriptwriter, From Beirut to Brooklyn. Editor, Butter Phoenix.
Audre Lorde Writing Award, Hunter College, 1995 and 2000; Morris Center for Healing Poetry Award, 1996; New York Mills Artist Residency, 1998; Van Lier Fellowship, 1999; Emerging Artist Award, New York University Asian/Pacific/ American Studies Institute, 2001; Antoinette Perry "Tony" Award for Special Theatrical Event, 2003, for Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry Jam on Broadway.
Drops of This Story (memoir), Writers and Readers Publishing (New York, NY), 1996.
Born Palestinian, Born Black (poems), Writers and Readers Publishing (New York, NY), 1996.
ZaatarDiva (poems), Cypher (New York, NY), 2005.
Columnist for Stress magazine.
Suheir Hammad has written well-received collections of poems as well as a memoir about growing up in Brooklyn, New York, as the daughter of Palestinian refugees. Her first collection, Born Palestinian, Born Black, explores issues of identity, ethnicity, culture, and feminism. As Hammad explained to Nathalie Handal in an Al Jadid interview, she grew up among Puerto Ricans, Latinos, and African Americans in her Brooklyn neighborhood and wanted to write about the various connotations of blackness in different cultures. "Within the Palestinian culture we have the concept of black being a negative force," she said, "and it is seen that way all over the world. What the book tries to do is take back the negative energy that is associated with black, reclaim it, and say that this is something that is about survival, something that is positive."
Reviewing Born Palestinian, Born Black for the blog Great American Pinup, Richard Jeffrey Newman described his experience teaching a particular poem from the book, "One Stop (Hebron Revisited)" in a college class. Told in the voice of a woman who fantasizes about the violence she would like to perpetrate on a lone Jewish man on a train in response to Israeli Baruch Goldstein's killing of twenty-nine Muslims in 1994, the poem expresses intense pain and rage. In Newman's view, the poem, like others in the collection, is "more angry than it is about coming to terms with anger." Hammad's second collection, ZaatarDiva, demonstrates what Newman considered to be more maturity, emotional complexity, and technical skill. Matthew Shenoda, reviewing the book in the Black Issues Book Review, expressed similar praise. Describing Hammad's work as "ethereal" and "translucent," Shenoda observed that Hammad's poems "pound with heart rhythms, ooze with street love and call for a brazen fist." Admiring what he described as the transcendent beauty and love that grounds Hammad's poems, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs contributor Matt Horton proclaimed Hammad's writing as a work of "genius."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Hammad, Suheir, Drops of This Story, Writers and Readers Publishing (New York, NY), 1996.
Black Issues Book Review, March 1, 2006, Matthew Shenoda, review of ZaatarDiva, p. 19.
Colorlines Magazine, July 1, 2006, Sunita Dhurandhar, review of ZaatarDiva, p. 55.
Publishers Weekly, January 23, 2006, review of ZaatarDiva, p. 189.
Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, April 1, 2006, Matt Horton, review of ZaatarDiva, p. 78.
Al Jadid, http://leb.net/˜aljadid/ (May 11, 2007), Nathalie Handal, "Drops of Suheir Hammad: A Talk with a Palestinian Poet Born Black."
Great American Pinup,http://greatamericanpinup.blogspot.com/ (May 11, 2007), Richard Jeffrey Newman, "Suheir Hammad's ZaatarDiva and Kazim Ali's The Far Mosque."
Suheir Hammad Home Page,http://www.suheirhammad.com (May 11, 2007).