Born Palestinian, Born Black

(Suheir Hammad at PEN American Center)

UpSet Press is proud to be re-releasing Suheir Hammad’s first book of poetry: Born Black, Born Palestinian in Spring 2009. UpSet Press and Suheir Hammad’s relationship has a long long history. It began with Zohra tugging at her skirt while she was on a platform rallying a student protest when both were in college. Suheir was part of SLAM at Hunter College. The friendship has continued through the years, through letters, through emails, and through teaching her work. UpSet Press wants to share her latest project: Salt of the Sea, a film by Annemarie Jacir.

(L-R: Danny Glover, Annemarie Jacir, Saleh Bakri, and Suheir Hammad)


A woman confronts the realities of life in the occupied Palestinian territories in this drama. While she was born and raised in New York, Soraya (Suheir Hammad) is of Palestinian heritage and has long dreamed of returning to the land of her ancestors. When Soraya learns that her grandfather bequeathed her a bit more than $15,000 he left in a bank account in Ramallah, she decides it’s time to make a pilgrimage, especially since the inheritance can pay for a long stay in the country. However, Soraya arrives in Israel to find that immigration personnel and border guards are not helpful to tourists of Palestinian blood, and it takes no small amount of determination before she arrives in Ramallah. There, Soraya meets Emad (Saleh Bakri), a handsome Palestinian student who has a scholarship waiting for him at a university in Canada, but Israeli immigration authorities refuse to grant him a visa. Soraya and Emad bond over their frustrations at the injustice they see around them, and when she learns that the money in her grandfather’s account (and all other Palestinian accounts at the bank) was forfeited after the establishment of the nation of Israel, they decide to take action. Soraya, Emad and his friend Marwan (Riyad Ideis) plan to stage a bank robbery, in which they’ll take only the amount deposited by her grandfather as a protest against the discriminatory policies that have become a part of daily life under occupation. Milh Hadha Al-Bahr (aka Salt Of This Sea) was the first feature film from writer and director Annemarie Jacir. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide


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