This paper explores the work of Arab-American poet and activist Suheir Hammad. It aims to underline how the work of Hammad departs from the Arab-American agenda of representation in the United States to establish a solid poetics that relates itself to African-American hip-hop poetry and music. Originating from hip-hop culture and consciousness, Hammad’s work seeks to utilise Afro/Arab-American poetics to transcend the hegemonic perceptions of belonging and citizenship. Drawing on Black and third-world feminisms, the paper also set out to explore how the poet reconstructs identity by demonstrating the overlapping interdependent histories of dispassion, in addition to African and Arab cross-cultural politics. Suheir Hammad braids her poems with shrewd awareness resulting from the intersection of her experiences of war, exile, racism and colonialism. Though solidly rooted in African-American cultural, political and literary traditions, Hammad’s poetry remains attached to Arab/Palestinian literature, music and culture. Her poems juxtapose Baalbak (Lebanese city) and Detroit, Jordan and Darwish, Old and New Worlds, New Orleans’ flooding catastrophe and evacuations from Beirut in 2006 in “break (word)”. She utilises the concernsand woes of her two communities to pronounce her much broader statement about equality, women’s liberation and social justice that transcend these communities. The paper highlights how Hammad’s poetry calls for expanding communities through understanding labels and re- articulations of identities. It is at the intersections of politics and poetry, postcolonialism and racism, African-American and Palestinian communities, Amiri Baraka and Mahmoud Darwish, and hip-hop consciousness and music, wherein lies the transformative potential of Suheir Hammad’s poetry.
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