So I started this body of work about the Palestinian struggle back in early 2006. Some of you have heard or read snippets of this work as it has developed over the years. A friend of mine told me he has been thinking about me and Palestine over the last couple of days with the atrocities that are happening in Gaza/Israel.
Some background: the project is completely complied of persona poems in the "voices" of Palestinian civilians in occupied territories of Israel (Gaza, West Bank, East Jerusalem....). It is a continuation, of sorts, of my historical research paper at Chapel Hill based on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. (My degree is, after all Third World/Non-Western History) From there, I decided to explore how Palestinians portray themselves in Palestinian feature films based on the history of the conflict. What I discovered through this journey was that, given a chance to tell their own story (not filtered through "objective" media), Palestinians show an attempt to give light to the whole struggle. Namely, they are interested in showing the world that they, too, are humane, are civil, are.....people.
I had all of these narratives swimming in my head. Four films I used in my research are: The Tale of the Three Lost Jewels, The Roof, Wedding in Galilee, and The Olive Harvest. All are great movies. Mostly told around the two intifadas. There are other movies worth noting (Paradise Now)...however, I did not have a budget, so I was limited to what was available in the UNC Undergrad Library. If you're interested in reading more, I'd be more than happy to share my paper, or my bibliography.
For more personal and real stories, I became a constant reader of Palestinian blogs. It is as close to personal experiences and "chances to tell their own stories" as you can get. It is scary. There are pictures that the media won't show. It is life changing.
What also happened was this need to figure out my place in support of the conflict. How could I decide to hold someone else's story in my mouth, in my mind, in my hands? This is something I am still considering and will probably write more on later. But for right now, I want to remember the **people** of Palestine.
You can find some of my poems published online here:
Here's 2 poems from my manuscript. Currently titled, "Casting stones". The first poem, "Gaza Ghazal" I wrote last spring. "Kites Court in Gaza and Rafah" I wrote Fall 2007.
who lives in this prison, in this city under siege?
my mother, my father, my brother – all under siege
there is imminent, everlasting darkness, never light
your are paralyzed this way: under siege
children cry, their dry mouths, their empty hands –
they learn to live in sustained hunger under siege
the risks you take for your blood bound beyond the wall:
you crawl, snake through sewers, even those under siege
I long to touch the sea, to reach up and hold the last sky
only dreams – only dreams are allowed under siege
salaam to the birds, salaam to the clouds
salaam, I say, from the ground under siege
our fields have been razed, this harvest yields empty urns
no fruit – even our olive trees are trapped under siege
look the empty gravel streets – no one drives
these lonely roads through the city under siege
at the checkpoint, at the border, we are herded, held
we are cattle crowded in barbed-wire fences under siege
no medicines, no work, just humming fighter jet planes overhead
we are people prohibited from their freedom, living under siege
grandmother wants only to die in her home, with family
even if it means in her beloved city under siege
artillery shells cascade nightly in thunderous rain
don’t say it; don’t tell us to be patient here. Gaza’s under siege
(c) DeLana R.A. Dameron
Kites court in Gaza and Rafah
The sky opened its mouth
to the noonday sun suspended
above us like a golden uvula.
We gather and the children bring
handmade kites – weightless shifters
of paper and string – to signal hellos
the way our faces cannot, dammed
behind this twelve foot wall.
The kites serve as an extension
of our bodies. They can kiss,
and touch. It is a privilege
our flesh yearns for – the warmth
of family, of love as an intimacy
not granted in war. We come
and forget the night: the qassam’s
percussive nightmares lighting curtains
with each blast. We remember
the limitations of iron walls
between our bodies and the exit wounds
of shrapnel shards from Merkava tanks
are gateways for the children’s’ fragile bones –
brave and small enough to slither between
the worlds we cannot see – making
the impossible crossover to Rafah and back.
Cousins, their laughter makes irrelevant
this barrier while, still, the roar of fighter jets,
the loud sputter of machine guns
echo around them.
(c) DeLana R.A. Dameron