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‘You Start Where You Live’: Literary Spaces of Palestine Solidarity



King's College London

Journal Title:

Human Geography



This essay discusses the contributions that three of the most prominent diasporic Palestinian Anglophone spoken word poets—Suheir Hammad (US), Remi Kanazi (US), and Rafeef Ziadah (Tunisia/Canada/UK)—have made to a contemporary literature of Palestine solidarity, in relation to the tension between liberationist and humanitarian articulations of solidarity that characterizes many contemporary appeals for solidarity with Palestine. I focus on their political and stylistic commitment to plain speaking, an approach that distances their work from the stylistic conventions of human rights advocacy and literary modernism, which both tend to discourage the explicit articulation of political belief. These poets demand that the listener/reader “start where you are,” as Hammad puts it, and conceive of the Palestine solidarity movement as part of a global liberation struggle in which we are all implicated. An examination of how each poet constructs the solidarity relation through their creative uses of analogy, address, voice, and performance helps us to see how this forthright invitation to the listener/reader works in practice.

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