Mohammed El-Kurd

This Is Why We Dance

for Carmel Hilal,

Home in my memory is a green, worn out couch
and my grandmother in every poem
every jasmine picked off the backlash
every backlash picked off the tear gas
and tear gas healed with yogurt and onions
     with resilience
     with women chanting and drumming
     on pots and pans
     with goddamns and hasbiyallahs.  
Motherfuckers work tanks but we know stones.
(2008 The Gaza Bombings)
my ritual of watching T.V.
ran between the grieving
                                   and Egyptian belly dance music
and I fluctuated between hatred and adoration
                      stacking and hording Darwishs reasons to live
                      On this land, theres something which makes life worth living
                       sometimes                            believing them.
                       sometimes dipping my bread in indulgence,
knowing a child is breadless, in Khan Yunis,
dipped in a roofs rubble
If you ask me where Im from its not a one-word answer,
be prepared and seated, breathless and geared
and if hearing about a world other than yours
       makes you uncomfortable,
well, drink the sea
        cut off your ears
blow another bubble to bubble your bubble and the pretense.
blow another town of bodies in the name of fear.
This is why we dance,
My father told me: Anger is a luxury that we cannot afford.
Be composed, calm, still laugh when they ask you
smile when they talk, answer them,
                                   educate them.
This is why we dance,
Because if I speak, Im dangerous
you open your mouth,
you raise your eyebrows,
you point your fingers.
This is why we dance,
wounded feet but the rhythm remains
This is why we dance,
Because no matter how many adjectives you stack upon my shoulders
I define me
This is why we dance,
Because even my poetry isnt free.
Now can you please just tell me:
Why is anger even anger– a luxury
                                  to me?

Screen Shot 2018-05-15 at 8.13.19 PMMohammed El-Kurd is a twenty year old poet and writer from Jerusalem, Palestine. Being born on the 50th anniversary of the Nakba was an appropriate sign for someone who would go on to channel so much of his country’s suffering and complexities into his art form. He was first exposed to the public at the age of 11, as the protagonist of numerous documentaries, including the Peabody-award-winning film, My Neighborhood (2009), which focused on settlements in East Jerusalem and Mohammed’s family’s story of dispossession. He continued to speak out about the injustices he saw around him, telling audiences his story at the European Parliament and at multiple American universities, including New York University. Mohammed has a large online following and is a permanent writer for Fallujah Magazine. He has been published in The Guardian and Medium. His writing, especially his poetry, has sparked media attention and praise – including numerous features in international outlets such as The Huffington Post and Al Jazeera. The award-winning Lebanese author Joumana Haddad said of his work: “I can assert that during my long years of interaction with the Arab literary and cultural scene, as cultural editor of An-Nahar newspaper and former coordinator of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction, and as an author myself, I have never encountered a young voice as talented and unique as Mohammed El-Kurd’s.” Mohammed writes in both Arabic and English. He considers writing in English as extremely important because the narrative of the Palestinian people has been hijacked, shut down, and manipulated by the English-language press. He writes about the intersections of the Palestinian struggle with resistance movements around the world, social norms and gender, Islamophobia, and the complexities of the Palestinian identity. Mohammed is currently studying at Savannah College of Art and Design in the United
States. He hopes to publish his first collection of poetry, titled RIFQA, in honor of his grandmother.

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