My life is rough right now. I’m really angry about a lot of things. I’m angry that I’ve lived so long in Utah that I’ve finally learned with Mormon culture here is REALLY like. That pains me. I’m angry that my life is in turmoil and change. I’m angry that I’ve let things happen to me.
A couple of years ago I posted a post that talked about how I was coping with my father dying. One of the ways was to listen to Suheir Hammad. Her beautiful voice reminding me about this place that I fell in love with and these people that I fell in love with two years prior. I haven’t stopped listening to her voice. I’ve been looking for other voices like hers and while I’ve found some, I always go back to her voice. Her passionate voice that helps me learn some Arabic because she so beautifully interweaves it into her poems. When I was in Jordan I asked what “Ymaa” meant because I kept hearing my sister’s son saying it and every time I heard him say it I could hear Suheir Hammad saying it. “Khan Younis. Ymaaaaaaaaaaa.” I played it for my sister and she was moved as I was.
Just now I watched Salt of this Sea. I finally bought the DVD of it. It’s a beautiful movie about being Palestinian. Suheir Hammad is in it. I’ll be honest, I think she’s a better poet and poeter than actor, but she still filled my soul up at the end when the Israeli’s were asking where her Palestinian passport was and she said “it’s in your hand.” (It was her American passport with her Palestinian being on that passport that made it her Palestinian passport.) I’m so far away and Suheir Hammad keeps my soul in touch until I get there. I need that. I need that a lot, and I’m incredibly grateful for that.
I know, it’s probably all colonialist of me to be so interested in the Palestinian issue and to call a Palestinian-Jordanian woman my sister, but my soul can’t help it. I hope, though, that I am using my americanism to help them, instead of just hurting them. I worry though. I worry that I’ll take a job from a Palestinian-Jordanian, I worry that in trying to be myself that I’ll be too american and that will continue the cycle of cultural colonialism that I despise so much. I hope not. I hope that by introducing my loved ones there to Suheir Hammad’s voice that not only does my soul stay connected but that she gives them some comfort and hope and they will to never stop being Palestinian and they will teach their children to be proud Palestinians and to never forget Ein Karem and Bayt Natif. I hope that’s the case.
Suheir – if you are still stopping into this place, I want you to know how incredibly grateful I am for who you are. I suspect I am just one of many. Really, though, I am. In fact in the thank you section of my dissertation – if I ever finish the rewrites – you are mentioned, along with Alix Olson. You two remind me of my roots and passion in all things good and just. I hope one day to meet you. Yeah, like so many others. I hope one day my sister and her family can hear you poet, in person. I remember Alix Olson saying, I think in a performance in my hometown of Eugene, that she was like one of those old traveling news tellers. She meant that as she travelled from place to place she told the news and connected communities. You are one of those too. You tell the news in your poems and you connect people back to a land they dream of every day. Do you know how important that is? Do you know what a gift that is for me to be able to give to my sister and her family? Thank you. Now, if I do, in fact, have your attention, will you please put out some of your poems in Arabic? The people who really need your poems can’t understand English, or don’t very well – not well enough to get the meaning. I know you are busy, but please? Will you? If I could I’d translate them, but I speak stats so much better than I do Arabic. I am only just learning.