Before the Next Bomb Drops Rising up: From Brooklyn to Palestine speaks powerful truths to solidarity, justice, resistance
In his latest collection of poems, Before the Next Bomb Drops Rising up: From Brooklyn to Palestine, spoken word artist and activist, Remi Kanazi speaks powerful truths to solidarity, justice, and resistance. This collection of poems takes audiences on a literary journey through struggles toward liberation from Palestine to Ferguson, from Iraq to South Africa, and from university campuses to communities.
Remi’s writing challenges Israeli occupation, U.S. foreign policy, the prison industrial complex, institutionalized racism, police brutality and so much more. However, it is not enough to say that his poetry simply weaves a thread between these struggles. Yes, they indeed relate to each other, and of course these communities learn from each other, but he stresses in his poem “#WhatRemains” that each community, and each struggle is unique.
“#NoLessWorthy” is a poem that attempts to draw connections between struggles toward liberation of marginalized communities –from Palestinian youth in the West Bank, to black youth in the United States, and undocumented peoples locked by borders. His structure is brilliant –there is no merging of text or blurring of stories–each community is dedicated a space or stanza for their struggle, but are typed onto the same page –similar to a the way marginalized communities experience oppression in unique forms, but in the end, take action against the same systems of oppression.
As eloquent as his writing is, and as clever as his word choice may be, Remi takes his writing beyond the common form of writing as resistance. He does not just write to speak out against systems of oppression –however, he takes it further, and forces audiences to assess their role in resistance movements.
In his poem “Solidarity” Remi reminds readers that “your contribution is just that, a contribution.” Here, he brings truth to the meaning of solidarity. He revisits this in his poem “Appetite for Appropriation” where he challenges the reduction of liberation movements to a hashtag or photo. His writing forces activists to question their intentions and reminds them of their role in the movement.
Remi does not excuse himself from this type of critique. His words cannot string together a song for liberation of black and brown bodies, and in his poem “This Poem Will Not End Apartheid” he recognizes this. It is this messaging of truth that allows audiences to take more away from his writing than they perhaps intended.
Multiple questions arise, as an activist, as a person of conscious you are shaken awake from a world of likes and shares and retweets and hashtags –you are overwhelmed with reality in the most colorful form.
His poems do not reduce movements, massacres, and occupation to facts. His poems tell stories. Remi carefully develops his characters. His poem “Sumound” tells the story of resilience in the face of occupation. It is a story about a boy named Ahmed, who recalls the horrors of occupation, the way his father was taken and beaten by Israeli Occupation Forces. His recollections followed him to his university abroad, where he joined university liberation movements, all while his father sat in a prison cell miles away from him.
It is stories like this that grab a reader’s attention –you wake up.
We are brought down from this high of protests, of campaigns, and conference calls and panel discussions –we remember Mike Brown’s father, Tariq Abu Khdair’s black and blue body. We remember stories like Ahmed’s.
To those who have not yet purchased a copy of Remi Kanazi’s book “Before the Next Bomb Drops” I strongly encourage you to do so. I advise you to be prepared to do a little bit of much needed self-reflection. Remi’s words speak truths –important truths to the struggle toward liberation. There is a sense of urgency –ideally, to grasp the meaning of solidarity and activism –to join those in the struggle, literally before the next bomb drops.