Suheir Hammad according to her Wikipedia entry (such a trusted source, right?) is "a Palestinian-American poet, author and political activist." But that barely captures the essence of what she is as an artist and as a woman. I was introduced to her work through a class I was taking and fell in love with her sharp, poignant poetry. On my recent internet crawl, I stumbled upon a mass of YouTube videos of her def poetry jam stuff ...and let's just say I won't be finishing that essay any time soon.
Suheir deals with issues of nationhood, identity, gender roles, self-expression, love, and basically anything anyone can ever want to hear about. As someone who isn't much of a creative writer ( I try now and again), I'm really amazed by her ability to take these heavy topics and condense them into these short effective pieces that a variety of people can find accessible. She performs her poetry anywhere she can and it's a mark of how amazing she is that people can connect with her so easily. Aside from being involved in Def Poetry, Suheir also starred in Salt of This Sea, a film about a woman's travels to the West Bank and her experiences both in America and back in her country of birth.
And though you might not see me anytime soon on the spoken word stage, UTSC sure isn't lacking in talent - from any avenue! Every year, Scarborough Fair is released and it contains writing and artwork from students. It's a great display of artistic engagement and students can submit their original work (not to mention how great it looks on your portfolio). There are also many opportunities throughout the year to submit creative writing pieces for reviews in various competitions and conferences. The spoken word scene at UTSC is pretty vibrant as well. And having gone to many of the shows presented by Spoetic, I would encourage everyone to make it out. You can check them out on their Facebook, and find some cool student artists (think of them like Suheir's-in-the-making - they sure have the talent to get there!)
I guess the lesson in all of this is to let those creative juices flow! Whether, like me, it's a way to release tension during exam time or more inspiration to start writing yourself. I've always heard that the best thing to do when you're trying to write is to put pen to paper, or more aptly nowadays, fingers to keyboard. And since there are so many opportunities to showcase the results of your flow writing, it can't hurt to try your hand out at some!
So as all of you inspired people are writing away, take a break and check out more of Suheir Hammad's work!
Let me know if there are any other artists/shows you want me to check out. Tweet me about it @rantothezebra or let me know in the comments below. Until next week, later days!