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PALFEST 2009: Suheir Hammad Performs in Ramallah

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I'm going to do a poem for my mom My mom and my dad became American citizens in the 80's And that's how I became an American citizen And when you get your certification of naturalisation in America We're so advanced - you know, it's height, eye colour, complexion So my father's complexion on his paper is 'fair' Which is not a colour OK Think about it And my mother's complexion was medium was medium So this is for my mum, and this is to certify that my mother is now natural Complexion- medium, certified Not too sweet, not quite hot Not too black, not quite white What was so middle about her? Hands detangled, parted and quilted thick black waves into braids Rolled grape leaves with style and speed Scrubbed ovens, knees and backs of ears, clean with love Nails always look neat But on closer inspection chipped and tug tired her voice singing Um Kalthoum to foreign raised ears certified citizen, natural complexion, medium how will hips be categorised? childbearing? or nose? semitic? Would your butt be your African trait? eyes: indian. hair: mulato. tongue: Arab Momma, you natural woman of sun, water, air Given a nation, though no land Palestinian woman, loss embroidered on your forehead More than thin ass pieces of paper that could never certify your dreams Aspirations, heartbreaks, You can make vegans eat your lamb with relish Rip your heart out to feed your man you who makes rhinestone sparkle diamonds Sequins your daughter's ears with your laugh Memorise but didn't have dead presidents Backwards and forwards for citizenship A place to lay your head But always told us, take me home when I'm dead Woman, natural, medium, middle to nothing Never can they certify what they don't understand

Video Details

Duration: 2 minutes and 57 seconds
Country: Palestine
Language: English
Producer: Omar Robert Hamilton
Director: Omar Robert Hamilton
Views: 216
Posted by: palfest on May 26, 2009

Palestinian American poet Suheir Hammad gives an electric performace in the garden of the Sakakini Centre, Ramallah.

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