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One on One
Suheir Hammad
The award-winning poet, author and political activist joins Riz for a one-on-one talk.
Last Modified: 28 Mar 2009 12:02 GMT

Watch part two

This week on One on One, meet Suheir Hammad, the award-winning poet, author and passionate political activist.

As the child of Palestinian refugees who moved to Brooklyn, New York at the age of five, her early life was infused with the city's bustling hip hop scene and the angst of Arab dispossession – much of which reveals itself in the depths of her poetry and writing.

Although she was born in Amman, Jordan, her childhood was constantly filled with her parents' stories about their ancestral home in Palestine before becoming refugees, and the Quran to Suheir was God's own epic poem. 

These stories continued even after Suheir Hammad moved to New York, and were instrumental in cultivating her creative talent.

Her work embodies and embraces the concept of identity as an immigrant, a Palestinian, a Muslim and as a woman challenging society's social conventions.

Growing up in Brooklyn, Hammad has been immersed in a world of cultures her entire life. While she has always held on to her Palestinian past, her writing reflects her Brooklyn roots as well.

It was those influences that helped her to produce poetry and writing that eventually put her on HBO channel's Def Poetry Jam, after she was spotted by Russell Simmons, the godfather of hip hop.

Hammad has continued to make a name for herself as an outspoken feminist activist – maintaing her strong focus on the plight of the Palestinian people.

Recently she has expanded into film, playing the virtually autobiographical lead part of Soraya in the 2008 romantic drama, Salt of This Sea, about a woman who travels from Brooklyn to Israel to see the land from which her Palestinian ancestors were evicted 60 years earlier.

This episode of One on One aired on Saturday, March 28, 2009.

Source:
Al Jazeera
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