15 Jun

Suheir Hammad: Poems of war, peace, women, power

Ever wonder if there’s more to life than the coincidence of related events?  That somehow opportunities lay out in a pattern where the expectation is that it’s random?

This isn’t a poem or anything, but for whatever reason it is on the brain.  Mostly because poems have entered my life almost daily since I posted last week.

This Monday I noticed, at last minute, an invite from my friend Megan to attend the Rowers Pub Reading Series.  As I don’t see the event listed on their website, I can only assume it was meant to be a ‘closed’ event as it detailed the change of the guard of it’s executive. 

Nonetheless, you can learn more about this group of Toronto based poets here:

Quite obviously, there was a lot of poems, jokes and stories that were told.  I can see why poets actually become poets, there is a lifestyle here.  There is a group of friends to meet with, visitors from out of town who congregate to interact with and performances to be made or entertained by.  I was told afterwards that there were chapbooks for sale as well that I had missed. 

And to be honest, I had no idea what a chapbook was (so I asked).  You can find it’s definition here:

As last week I covered a spoken word poetry TED Talk, hearing about two dozen poems at the start of the week and so I decided to spend one last entry on the subject of Poetry this week.

You can find this poetry link here:

Length: 5 Minutes, 53 Seconds

Date: Dec 2010

One Sentence Summary: “The title is suiting, poems of war, peace, women, power.”

It’s a cheat to stick with the title that was given to it at TED, but to be honest, I’m still trying to wrap my mind around poetry.

You see, when it comes to poetry, I JUST DON’T GET IT.

I’ve written poetry before, I’ve read poetry from many authors and I even have a few books about poetry sitting on my shelf.  But as much as I ‘know’ poetry and its methodologies/reasoning/beats of performance, there is something that I am missing.

It is a desiderata of missing understanding, there is a search for something missing here.  (Odd, I just reread Desiderata of Happiness just the other day too).

Desiderata of Happiness poem:

Look, I consider myself a tech guy.  A computer nerd.  I type faster than some people speak, and I keep to update on virtually everything in tech news/YouTube/E3 (well, video games in general)/media/uh, random crap.

And yet I find the dancing verbal tantalization of prose to be fascinating, it is definitely something decidedly different from what I’m used.  (and now I’m just playing with my sentences like a high school student)

As poetry in itself an art form, I will have to slide into the category that I simply enjoy live performance and forgive the why.  As it isn’t exactly a pertinent question to be answered, I can find the answer of ‘why I like poetry’ on another night.

“I, why?” – anonymous

I think the above is the world’s shortest poem.  Heck, I’m not even sure if it is real.  All I remember is my grade 10 teacher writing it on the chalkboard claiming that is what is was.

As Hammad’s poems, they are quite intense.  I see a great deal of verbal / cerebral pleasing moments for her as she speaks.  She talks to the TED audience like she was at a cafe or smoking bar.

And this is an interesting contrast from last week.  I didn’t realize it as much then, but I think that felt more like a classroom setting as opposed to this one.  There is a lot of comfort here, like glasses filled with beer or spirits are being passed along in the back row. 

And despite this casual feeling, the poems involved are so much not.  These are very real, very intense subject matter.  Yet the cascade of images presented in such a manner that the journey you take isn’t scary, or funny, it is a very different ride altogether.

What caught me off guard:

It’s hard to say a poem or a presentation with poems can catch one off guard.  Hammad doesn’t go into the details of why she is speaking at a TED event nor does she appear to be directly interfacing with the audience.  In some cases a TED speaker will speak to the audience, like there is ray of light between the two and the audience is about to convey something back.

In this case, she speaks knowing her audience is out there, but they will remain in the dark.  (Well, except to make some noise)


Suheir Hammad’s profile on TED is here:

Her wiki page too:

Hammad’s enunciation first caught my attention and then the subject matter of the poem.  It isn’t exactly clear where she is going (at least, not to me), so the journey becomes rather interesting  As I said, poetry eludes me so I find myself a bit fascinated.

So now that it’s been discussed, what can we do?

To be honest, I think I’m going to switch gears and start reading something high tech or literal next week.  All this poetry has filled my chapbook of a mind quite full.


-Updated every Friday

PS> My own little poem.

“TED.  Said.”  – ED

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Posted by on June 15, 2012 in Uncategorized



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