Feminine Diasporic Consciousness in the Arab-American Poetry after 11 September 2001

Reham Mohammed Abu Zaid


The Arab-American women poets have fought marginalization and played an important role in the American literary society. They have suffered from some pressures such as facing the assimilation in the American society (that is to say Americanization) and maintaining their Arabic identity. These pressures have produced a diasporic consciousness in their poetry. Being sensitive by nature, Arab women poets are always aware of their alienation in the American society. The case of being Muslim women, of an Arabic origin, in the American society - with all its characteristics and multiculturalism – has imposed particular themes on their poetry.

     Yet, the Arab women poets, living in America became aware of the difficulty of their situation in the American diaspora, especially after the disaster of the attacks September 11, 2001. They were entrapped in a plight which burdened them with much pressure. However, they have faced the new dilemma of the Arabs in the American society courageously. They have successfully overcome their increasing Diasporic consciousness, forming a new shape for their position both inside and outside the American society. In achieving these aims, they have followed some strategies in their poetry, as a turning point in their history and in their lives in USA, as for instance: (1) negotiating the possibilities of the reconciliation between the American 'Self' and the Arab 'Other, (2) sympathizing with the American pain and suffering because of this horrible event, (3) condemning violence and terrorism, (4) attacking the American foreign policy which sometimes creates outside enemies, (5) denouncing the American collective view of terrorism and evil imposed on all the Arab-American people, (6) advocating Islam as a religion and a way of life (7) objecting to the American silencing to and intolerance against the Arab-Americans especially women ... etc.


     Consequently, this research paper tries to inspect these strategies. Some poems of two Arab-American women poets, Suheir Hammad and Mohja Kahf are analyzed as examples. The first poet, Hammad, is Palestinian. The other, Kahf, is Syrian. Both of them have been brought up in America. They still live and work there. Suheir Hammad's poem, "First Writing Since" was chosen as an example. this poem is not only a direct poetic reply of an Arab-American woman poet towards 9/11, but it is also a poetic stance of an American woman of a Palestinian origin confronting wrongness, prejudice and discrimination. It also tackles most of the strategies followed by the Arab-American women poets.  Mohja Kahf's poem, "Hijab Scene #3," has been discussed. Additionally, some stanzas of two other poems, "Hijab Scene #7" and "We Will Continue Like Twin Towers", are quoted as a support to the ideas. Kahf condemns the general condition of Islamophobia that has spread in America specifically and in the West generally after 9/11.

     Finally, a study of such poetry facilitates a comprehensive understanding of the poetry of the Arab-American women poets, its past views, its present trends, and its possible future. The importance of the role of women in the society is referred to in this research. The research tends to show the significance of poetry in expressing powerfully the human feelings and experiences. The poet is the spokesman of his people. In addition, this research sheds light on an ignored literary genre in America in spite of its richness. It also aims to condemn terrorism and violence anywhere. No man has the right to kill another or to destroy anything. Another goal of the research is to set the principles of equality and fraternity for all human beings regardless of color, religion, race and nationality. Consequently, it denounces racial discrimination, oppression, collective punishment and wrongness. It calls for co-operation, union, peace, justice and tolerance all over the world.   


Feminine, Diaspora, Poetry, Tolerance, Terrorism, Strategy, Violence, Discriminate, Poem, Imagery, Theme.

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