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Guide to the Muslims in Brooklyn oral histories 2018.006

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Collection processed by Elena Locascio

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on June 13, 2019
Finding aid written in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

 Revised by Maggie Schreiner to reflect updated access restrictions.  , April 2019

Container List

Oral History Interview with Suheir Hammad, September 13, 2018

Biographical / Historical

Suheir Hammad was born in 1973 in Amman, Jordan. Her family immigrated to the United States in 1979 and settled in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn. She started writing poetry as a teenager, often drawing from her family's history and her own experiences as a Palestinian Muslim woman in New York City. Her poetry collections Born Palestinian, Born Black and  Drops of This Story were both published in 1996. She gained addition recognition with her poem "First Writing Since," which was centered around the September 11 Terrorist Attack in 2001, performing it for the pilot for the Peabody award-winning HBO show  Russell Simmons presents Def Poetry and in the Tony award-winning Broadway play  Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry Jam on Broadway. She published additional collections of her poetry called  ZaatarDiva in 2006 and  Breaking Poems in 2008, as well as an updated version of  Born Palestinian, Born Black in 2010. Her work has also been featured in various anthologies, magazines, plays, and films.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Suheir Hammad discusses her family's roots in Palestine; their displacement to Jordan in 1949; and her childhood in Brooklyn and Staten Island. She talks at length about social justice, including gender, privilege, prejudice, and violence in her community. She elaborates about her passion for hip-hop; spiritual and religious convictions; and development as a poet. She expands on her poem "First Writing Since," which centered around the September 11 Terrorist Attack in 2001, and her subsequent involvement in the Peabody award-winning HBO show Russell Simmons presents Def Poetry and in the Tony award-winning Broadway play  Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry Jam on Broadway. In addition, she touches on her religious and secular education. Interview conducted by Zaheer Ali.

Conditions Governing Access

This interview can be accessed onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online at the Oral History Portal.

Subject Names

  • Hammad, Suheir
  • Simmons, Russell

Subject Organizations

  • Def poetry (Television program)

Subject Topics

  • Hip-hop -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Islam and the performing arts -- United States
  • Misogyny -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Muslim women authors -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Palestinian Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Poetry slams -- United States
  • Poets, Palestinian Arab -- United States
  • Privilege (Social psychology) -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Racism and the arts -- United States
  • Refugees, Palestinian Arab
  • September 11 Terrorist Attacks, 2001, in literature
  • Social justice -- United States
  • Women -- Violence against -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Women in Islam -- New York (State) -- Kings County