Suheir Hammad

"A Prayer Band": Palestinian poet Suheir Hammad on Hurricane Katrina

A Palestinian-American from Brooklyn, Suheir Hammad has appeared on the HBO show “Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry,” hosted by Mos Def. Her poems have been featured in numerous publications, on the BBC World Service, and National Public Radio. Hammad recently wrote two poems about Hurricane Katrina and the aftermath. The first reprinted here, “A Prayer Band”, was performed at an event organised by Hammad called “Refugees for Refugees” in New York City on September 9th, which raised $5,000 for hurricane relief. Suheir Hammad arrived in Jackson, Mississippi yesterday, to deliver the money personally and help with direct relief efforts. 

Palestine's people never say goodbye

Maysoon notices an odd formation of soldiers. In a row. Guns drawn. Rafael is walking towards them. There are no street lights on. He thinks he’s walking towards an empty van. She pulls him closer to her, and shots are fired. Yes. The soldiers shot into the crowd. No warning fire. No megaphone. Live bullets into a crowd of hundreds. It is so dark, my friends see the sparks fly out of the guns. They keep walking, slowly. Surely. Maysoon figures they won’t shoot in the direction of other soldiers, and she is right. They breeze through the checkpoint. No questions asked by either side. Once through, an Israeli soldier asks her where she’s from, in English. “Can you believe he wanted to have a normal conversation with me?” 

"On the brink of..."

“This is not a poem. This is not a threat. / This is a promise. / God has a better imagination / than all of us combined and I do not / know what form retribution will take / but I have seen karma happen and it will / again, and when it does I will chant / the names of the innocent and I will stand / with those who have kept their hands clean of blood/ and their hearts clear of hate.” Poet Suheir Hammad offers an elegy for the life and work of Rachel Corrie.