Kanazi's performances mix passionate poetry and humor
|Genres||Performance poetry, spoken word, hip hop|
|Subjects||Human rights, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan|
Remi Kanazi (born 1981) is a Palestinian-American performance poet and human rights activist based in New York City. He is the editor of the anthology of hip hop, poetry and art, Poets for Palestine (2008), and the author of the collection of poetry, Poetic Injustice: Writings on Resistance and Palestine (2011). He has toured hundreds of venues across the US, Canada, Europe and the Middle East.
Life and work
Kanazi is the son of Palestinian refugees who fled Palestine before the state of Israel was established in 1948. Kanazi's maternal grandmother came from Yaffa and was pregnant with his mother when she was forced to leave; his father, a physician, left Haifa as a child when his family fled.
Kanazi writes and performs political poetry addressing topics such as human rights, Palestine, Iraq, and islamophobia. Approaching his work from a humanist perspective, Kanazi says, "I’m not a nationalist, I’m not an ethnocentrist. This isn’t about me being a Palestinian or me being an Arab. It’s about a system of oppression and what’s being done to a people. So whether you’re talking about police brutality or the US-Mexico border or Afghanistan or the war in Iraq or the plight of Palestinians, what they’re going through and the injustice that’s being perpetrated against them is what matters. And that’s what we’re working against – systems of oppression [...]."
Kanazi is the editor of Poets for Palestine (Al Jisser Group, August 2008), a collection of hip hop, poetry and art featuring Palestinian poets such as Suheir Hammad, Nathalie Handal, Fady Joudah, Annemarie Jacir, Mahmoud Darwish, Naomi Shihab and Kanazi himself, as well as African American poets Patricia Smith and Amiri Baraka. In 2011, Kanazi came out with his first collection, Poetic Injustice: Writings on Resistance and Palestine, a volume of poetry including a CD; he has also been a writer in residence and an advisory board member for the Palestine Writing Workshop, teaching spoken word poetry to youngsters in Palestine. He has appeared on Al Jazeera English and BBC Radio and has toured North America, the UK, and the Middle East, with appearances at the Palestine Festival of Literature and at Poetry International. Kanazi is also on the organizing committee of the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. His website is PoeticInjustice.net.
Alexander Billet, writing for Electronic Intifada, likened Kanazi's Poetic Injustice to the work of Gil Scott-Heron in its exploration of identity, oppression and resistance. The Pulitzer Prize winner Chris Hedges has commented positively about Kanazi's poetry, saying, "There is more truth, and perhaps finally more news, in Remi Kanazi's poems than the pages of your daily newspaper." His poetry was similarly praised by the South-African former minister Ronnie Kasrils, who considered it "a shining example of tomorrow's Palestine." Novelist and Booker Prize winner John Berger has described Kanazi as "a voice which refuses to be silenced".
- "Just because the house is beautiful doesn't mean the bones you built it on have fully decomposed."
- "Every time I think of 9/11 / I see burning flesh / Dripping off the bones / Of Iraqi children in Fallujah."
- "I don’t want to coexist. I want to exist as a human being. And justice will take care of the rest."
- Poets for Palestine (ed.), Al Jisser, 2008, ISBN 978-1-930083-09-7
- Poetic Injustice – Writings on Resistance and Palestine, RoR Publishing, 2011, ISBN 978-0-615-42166-7
- The Institute for Middle East Understanding (18 October 2010). "Palestinian Americans – Remi Kanazi: Poet and teacher". imeu.net. Retrieved 15 November 2011.
- Center for Social Research & Education (San Francisco, Calif.) (2005). Radical Society. Routledge Journals, Taylor & Francis. p. 5. Retrieved 14 November 2011.
- Theatre Communications Group (1 January 2008). American theatre. Theatre Communications Group. p. 41. Retrieved 14 November 2011.
- New African. IC Magazines Ltd. 2006. p. 4. Retrieved 14 November 2011.
- Dewitt, Sophie (26 March 2010). "Remi Kanazi, March 2010 Artist of the Month". The Institute for Middle East Understanding. Retrieved 15 November 2011.
- "The pen is mightier: Remi Kanazi talks back". arabcomment.com. 2011. Retrieved 15 November 2011.
- Billet, Alexander (11 July 2011). "Remi Kanazi's poetry of struggle". Electronic Intifada. Retrieved 15 November 2011. Copy at imeu.net.
- Mohammed, Syma (2011). "Remi Kanazi at Poetry International". The Arab British Centre. Retrieved 14 November 2011.
- "PSC Presents: Remi Kanazi's UK Tour". Middle East Monitor. 2011. Retrieved 15 November 2011.
- Barrows-Friedman, Nora (14 November 2011). "WATCH: Palestinian poets Remi Kanazi and Rafeef Ziadah – 'We teach life, sir'". Electronic Intifada. Retrieved 15 November 2011.