Dismantling the master’s tools? Palestinian Poets On Survival, Resistance, and Imagination in the Language of the Oppressor

Convened by Andi Shiraz

If language is a tool of the oppressor, and if, as Audre Lorde once said, the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house, then what does it mean to speak, write, and think, and perhaps especially to resist, in the language of the oppressor? 

Co-hosted as part of our Palestine Solidarity Series and {Method}ology Otherwise Research Group, we will consider this question through a range of recent essays by Palestinian poets and writers like George Abraham, Fargo Nissim Tbakhi, and others. Why poets in particular? Because among those of us who live this way — in and with the language of the colonizer, the oppressor, and the empire — perhaps no one struggles with this question quite like poets do. (Perhaps no one, likewise, has the key to its answers, quite like poets might…) In this sense, and given Lorde’s own thinking and work on the importance of poetry — not only to protest, resistance and intersectional struggles around the world, but to the fundamental wholeness of our everyday lives and ways of being — we will also use Lorde’s famous 1977 essay, “Poetry Is Not a Luxury,” as an entry point. 

There are 5 essays in all (see list below). We encourage you to read all / as many as possible, but you’re welcome to join even if you didn’t get a chance to.

1.     Audre Lorde: “Poetry is Not a Luxury” 

2.     George Abraham: “Teaching Poetry in the Palestinian Apocalypse

3.     Fargo Nissim Tbakhi: “Notes on Craft: Writing in the Hour of Genocide

4.     Pacinthe Mattar: “Beautiful Like the Moon

5.     Mohammed El-Kurd: “Refaat Alareer: An Incomplete Eulogy” (*)

* This essay is in Arabic. Feel free to try your browser’s translate feature to read it. 

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    The image above is by Mohammad Zohdi (2012), available here: https://www.fatehwatan.ps/page-162856.html.