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ZaatarDiva

Suheir Hammad

Book Reviews | Marketing Info | Author

Synopsis

Fresh from her Tony-Award winning stint in Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry Jam on Broadway and a subsequent 51-city tour, Suheir Hammad has written her first collection of poetry since Born Palestinian, Born Black, published when she was just 22 years old. ZaatarDiva is poetry about love, politics and art, all coming out of Hammad’s bag of zaatar. The poems in this collection are at once seductive and dangerous; they are possessed by a singular lyricism and awareness.

Reviews

For the elegantly beautiful Suheir Hammad, a Palestinian from Brooklyn with formidable lyrical gifts and a distaste for always being seen as ‘the exotic,’ lovemaking is continually disrupted by flashing thoughts of the traumatic events and brutality unfolding around the globe.”
Chicago Sun Times



“Suheir Hammad knows the sight and smell of war first hand as she recites "Daddy's Song." Her physical beauty and gracefulness pulls you into her quiet storm as it rips your mind open to the stew she's brewing. Her thoughts are poetic, but her message is beyond real.”
San Francisco Bay View



ZaatarDiva summons through moments of lyrical insight and urbane wit, again and again, and before we know what has happened, we are hooked. Here's a poetry that urges a wholeness - a crossing of borders - as the personal is woven into the public, whereby a 'prodigal daughter' possesses her own knowing voice. Each poem in ZaatarDiva is heart-driven by the urgent, raw orality of need. And, there is a glistening barb in each turn of phrase - a lure of quicksilver accuracy."
Yusef Komunyakaa, author of Neon Vernacular: New & Selected Poems 1977-1989, for which he received the Pulitzer Prize



“This is a book of love poems for the world, Suheir Hammad’s world and our world — the streets of Palestine and Brooklyn; her father’s shop and her lover’s skin; baklava, prisons and poetry. She celebrates the lives of those who speak from the shadows, who see clearly how much damage human beings can do to each other and who still struggle to survive and keep their humanity. Hammad’s compelling voice carries an urgent necessity and an angry honesty, and yet it can also speak tenderly with great compassion. It’s a voice we all need to enter, a new reflection for this young and troubled twenty-first century.”
David Mura, author of Angels for the Burning and The Colors of Desire.



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"In her rich and true second collection of poems, Suheir Hammad asks and answers the question, what is a Zaatardiva? The truth she offers readers is fierce, clear, and beautiful. These poems continually find their way through the wretched tangle of the world's inequities and contradictions to a place of lucid and elegant testimony. The poet Suheir Hammad has sharp eyes, full voice, and open hands."
Elizabeth Alexander, author of Antebellum Dream Book



NEWPAGES: Zaatar: Arab spice mix, made of thyme, sumac, and sesame seeds. Before sprinkling zaatar on your pita bread, brush it with some olive oil. Fresh from her Tony-Award winning stint in Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry Jam on Broadway and a subsequent 51-city tour, Suheir Hammad has written her first collection of poetry since Born Palestinian, Born Black, published when she was just 22 years old. ZaatarDiva is poetry about love, politics and art, all coming out of Hammad's bag of zaatar. The poems in this collection are at once seductive and dangerous; they are possessed by a singular lyricism and awareness, and her call to action has a major presence in her work. (March 6, 2006)



The world should know Suheir Hammad. They should know her bravery through the striking and descriptive words that fall from the pages of her newest poetry collection, ZaatarDiva. This review will surely not do justice to the passion in her pen. It will not demonstrate the raw honesty and soft beauty that makes Suheir Hammad one of the most deep and intensely emotional poets writing today. Hammad thrusts the reader into the story, no matter how uncomfortable it may make them. She is critical of oppression in many forms, and demonstrates a love for the world and the people in it like no other. My copy came with a tiny bag of zaatar and a CD that includes a selection of the book's poems read by the author herself. In all honesty, I'm not a fan of poetry, but there's something about this writer that makes me keep reading and seeking out her work. That's some deep shit, yo. (Review by Estella Rae)
Altar Magazine



"Brooklynite Hammad may be the first Palestinian-American to make it big in the spoken-word, or performance poetry, scene: she took part in Russell Simmons's Tony Award-winning Def Poetry Jam and has read on (among other venues) National Public Radio. Her first collection is also the first book from the Cypher imprint, edited by spoken-word elder statesman Willie Perdomo. Inspired both by her links to the Arab world and by the styles and stances of such earlier poet-performers as Nikki Giovanni, Hammad celebrates and defends her heritage ("i want to be open and hide/ the children of Palestine within me") and can be equally passionate about daily life in her home borough: "if you can make it here/ you got nothing to fear," the poem called "brooklyn" says. With the book comes a CD of Hammad in energetic performance, including a brief interview with the poet's father (subject of her poem "daddy's song"). Leading off the CD is one of Hammad's best poems, the ironic "mic check," whose title refers to sound equipment and to an airport search performed by a hapless guy named Mike."
Publishers Weekly



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“Suheir Hammad’s poetry is a deep resonant song in her bones, perfectly paced, funny and profoundly wise. In her radiance we can bear to be human beings again, we can feel that humble pride.”
Naomi Shihab Nye, author of Fuel and Red Suitcase



"Suheir Hammad is the first Palestinian-American poet to emerge, like an emergency, bringing the full Otherness to USA panoply. She's fierce and. political, human and loving, zaatar. And the poems, Honey, they are spicy as hell. She's the jazz of Brooks, the hiphop of Tupac, the humor of Hagedorn. This woman leads the way, except she won't have us follow. She wants us here beside her, shoulder to shoulder, the poem of people striding the world."
Bob Holman, editor of Aloud! Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Cafe



“Suheir Hammad’s poems in ZaatarDiva sing Arabic romantic, proclaim Palestinian fervent and pronounce Brooklyn gritty the hard truths of heritage, history and love. The humility and generosity of her poems lament our dead, chant our prayers, entice our love, inspire our revolutions and comfort our distressed eyes. Like the pungency and tang of zaatar itself, these poems are a blend of devotion, redemption and recognition, delving into the large sorrows from Tunisia, from Palestine from New York City and the small miseries of heart, family, and legacy. Hammad’s musics are the gentle strings our souls need to breathe in the air so toxified by tyrannies large and small. I will cling to this book as realization and salvation.”
Elmaz Abinader, author of Children of the Roojme.



"Anyone reading Suheir Hammad's long awaited second collection of poetry, ZaatarDiva, will come to the conclusion, as I did, that when we talk about the future of American poetry we must include the name Suheir Hammad."
Sapphire, author of Push and Black Wings & Blind Angels



“Or we would have missed the luminous and seductively uncompromising Suheir Hammad, the Palestinian from Brooklyn, deepening the reach of irony with a poem about a ‘random routine check’ at the airport.”
Newsday



“Suheir Hammad proves gracefully sensuous.”
NY Post



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About the Author

Suheir Hammad’s work has appeared in over a dozen anthologies and numerous publications. Her own books are Born Palestinian, Born Black and Drops of This Story, both published by Harlem River Press. Suheir has won several awards for her writing, including The Audre Lorde Poetry Award, a Van Lier Fellowship, and a Sister of Fire Award. She is co-writer and original cast member in the Tony-award winning Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry Jam on Broadway.
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