Suheir Hammad was born in 1973 in Amman, Jordan. Her family immigrated to the United States in 1979 and settled in Sunset Park. She started writing poetry as a teenager, often drawing on 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 published in 1996. She gained additional recognition for her poem “First Writing Since”, which was centered around the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Hammad performed it for the pilot of the Peabody Award winning HBO show “Russell Simmons presents Def Poetry” and in the Tony Award winning play “Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry Jam on Broadway”. Additional collections of her poetry include ZaatarDiva (2006) and Breaking Poems (2008), as well as an updated edition of Born Palestinian, Born Black (2010). Her work has been featured in various anthologies, magazines, plays, and films. See this narrator’s full biography and oral history.
Oral History Clips:
Suheir Hammad describes her first day of school as an English as a Second Language student in Sunset Park.
See this Oral History Clip’s interactive transcript.
Portrait of Suheir Hammad.