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Breaking Poems Paperback – December 1, 2008
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Suheir Hammad's break introduces English to an Arabic vernacular that startles into being an altogether new language, bridging the archipelago of a Palestine under siege to the diaspora and beyond, breaking through convention, breaking open locks on mind and heart, breaking into a music inspired by the Coltranes, Sun Ra and free jazz, Lee Scratch Perry and Ravi Shankar, a music that is at once a joyous celebration of survival and a poignant cri de Coeur that cannot be ignored and that Mahmoud Darwish should have lived to see. This is a poetry written for people who have endured the winds of hurricanes and invasions. What wisdom, energy, joy and poignancy Hammad brings to the page-for all of this, and for teaching me a new speaking, I give her my thanks. --Carolyn Forché
Breaking Poems takes on the geographic lines that have bound women for ages and marked their bodies, their selves with the lines of unjust notions of property and exploitation. These are poems that inform the dreams of a world that honors woman and honors woman speaking her own voice, breaking the bonds of old worlds with bright moments, bright moments, bright moments. --Afaa Michael Weaver
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On a technical level, breaking poems represents new heights in Hammad's sparse style. As the title suggests, the poems in this collection read like messages from the front lines--heavy, measured, parsed, rationed--boiled down to essential information and elemental emotion forged by the raging fury of a battle for survival. The style suits Hammad because it accomplishes what many spoken-word poets fail to achieve: a seamless transition from the energy and cadence of live performance to the printed page. Her words, carefully considered and organized, transcend two-dimensional black and white print to encompass voice, beat, image and visceral emotion.
While her previous collections read like galleries of poetic masterpieces, breaking poems is perhaps Hammad's first conceptualized poetic narrative. Her character in this novella is a witness to unfolding physical and psychological terror.Read more ›