Last Wednesday evening, walking into the comfy and colorful IC room for Remi Kanazi’s event, who has had his political commentary featured in news outlets all over the world such as Salon, Al Jazeera English, and BBC radio event, I was pleasantly surprised to see the room full to the point where I couldn’t find a seat. His poetry is highly political and as a Palestinian-American, he is a proud advocate for the Palestinian cause.
The evening started with some poetry from Our Art Spoken in Soul, which all had motivational and political tones that gave many audience members goosebumps. Tiauna Lewis ’19 and George Abraham ’17 performed a memorable poem that was a rewrite of Les Miserables from the perspective of black and Palestinian revolutionaries. The singing mixed with passionate words about topics that all the Swatties in that room were conscious about rallied up a few positive snaps and agreeable “hmphs.”
Afterwards, Remi began his set. He started by giving us some background on who he was and what kind of poetry he writes. He was an entertaining speaker, constantly making jokes about himself while still being extremely informative about Palestine and many other causes he is fighting for with his words. The room was pretty warmed up by the time he spat out his first poem, and the usual lukewarm Swarthmore poetry audience was replaced with warmer and louder responses, such as the boy next to me shaking and sighing in agreement every couple of lines.
His set had some serious and funny moments, and was entirely comprised of poems with the look-at-all-of-society’s-bullshit tone. It was the type of tone that could easily be recognized and identified with. But just looking at his poetry, one couldn’t help but notice that many of his best lines were really just pointing out facts rather than a more poetic creative response to these facts.
“Black men make up 40%
of the US prison population
nearly half for drugs that
white men abuse at a higher rate” – “Nothing to Worry About”, Remi Kanazi
It was the type of slam poetry that can get people snapping, and saying ‘Yes, damn, that is true! Society does have so much bullshit!’ and at its core it was truly rooted from his activism with the focus being on spreading a message rather than the actual beauty of the words. As a poet who understands the difficulty of balancing between the focus on the message or the poetry, most of his performance was slightly too blunt for me, with a little too much of shouting statements that many audience members were already aware of. They were all extremely relevant though, and he provided background that helped many ongoing conversations, such as one of his last poem called “This Divestment Bill Hurts My Feelings”. He was extremely entertaining and informative between his poems, and many of the audience members learned quite a bit about the Palestinian movement and some history about it.
Overall the night was quite successful. Remi’s passion and drive left the audience with inspiration as he encouraged us to go out and change the world for the better.