In his second poetry collection, Remi Kanazi takes the reader on a journey of violence and collective ignorance from Palestine to Ferguson to Iraq to Brooklyn. His unapologetically angry, graphic depictions of violence and fierce indictment of the ignorant among us who claim “the world is a messed-up place” but do nothing to stop it (30).

Kanazi’s book is not propaganda, and it’s not another book merely “explaining the situation,” two things Kanazi rejects in his collection. Rather it’s a call to arms with a deep sense of urgency. In his use of vivid, visceral language, the poems are a reminder of the violence that is a reality for so many people. The prose is short and choppy, often completely lacking in punctuation. This makes it feel almost desperate. It’s not a collection of stale, impersonal verses of self-pity—it is the cry of someone directly affected and saddened by the reality of the racist conflicts raging in many parts of the world, as we all should be. In “Layover in Palestine” Kanazi laments “what hallowed drones humans have become,” and with his collection, he makes an attempt to push back against this and make humans out of his readers once again.

Kanazi makes comparisons to the racial violence in America, from stop and frisk to police brutality and then draws them back to the bombs ripping Palestine apart and the occupiers that continue to steal Palestinian land. One of the most powerful parallels he makes is in “Hebron” where he describes the phrase “gas the Arabs scrawled across entryways / gas the Arabs inscribed by a people / who have been gassed before, (54). In the same manner he describes a young black man going on a first date only to be stopped and frisked, a mother who has piles of trash heaped upon her, and a baby splattered with blood on a doorstep. All of these images conjure up something wrong, like phrases and images that seem not to belong together, and yet for so many people they do. “Read the reports / become sick with yourself,” Kanazi suggests, and in making these sickening comparisons, he is forcing you to do so. (34)

Kanazi’s bare humanity and modern sensibilities (he ends several poems with hashtags) make him accessible. Hiss poems, resonating with the rhythm and passion of spoken word, are also pieces that can be read by those who do not read or understand poetry. The are provocative and energized in a way that is bound to open even the most conservative of eyes. The language he uses appeals to humanity at its most basic level, and Kanazi addresses carless Western comments like “the world is a messed up place.” At one point he emulates a frustrating dialogue, claiming that the problem is Afghanistan / I mean Iraq / I mean Afghanistan / no, Pakistan, yemen / Somalia, iran / our ally Saudi arabia / it’s al Qaeda on mars / the Taliban from the moon,” (66). His poetic transformation of these familiar blanket statements captures the frustration and the blatant ignorance surrounding the violence and war that has devastated so many countries and people that Western culture and media seem to glob together into just one big unfortunate mess. “Take Iraq out of your mouth,” he begs, “let a people breathe for just a moment / without trying / to set it ablaze,” (68). Kanazi refuses to indulge the collective amnesia of those who beg for “dialogue” and who whine about the violence in the middle east without actually doing anything about it, or even bothering to understand that there are real people that are being destroyed by the violence that western media condones.

“We have been reduced to odes,” Kanazi laments in the poem “Dislocation” (51). There has been a dense fog of violence collected around violence and racism, but Kanazi refuses to let the reader believe this. “We will return,” Kanazi says, “that is not a threat/not a wish/a hope/or a dream/but a promise.”

This review was generously provided by Busboys and Poets Books Supervisor Laura Lannan. Please join us for an evening of hip hop and poetry with Remi Kanazi on January 14th at 5th and K.

MIABMORE

Busboys and Poets – Baltimore

You may have noticed the new mural being installed on the windows of the new Busboys and Poets location Charles Village – 3224 St Paul Street Baltimore, MD This mural is titled: The Busboy and the Poet by Mia Duvall The name Busboys and Poets refers to American poet Langston Hughes, who worked as a … Continued

Screen Shot 2021 03 15 at 6.02.09 PM

Everest Base Camp #20

FINAL POSTING FOR EVEREST BASE CAMP TRAVEL LOG. Thank you for staying with me and for your beautiful comments. Hope to see at least some of you soon. Why I am here. It is 7:15 am. Our flight out of Lukla is at 8. I savor a yak cheese omelette and my last Himalayan coffee. … Continued

AndyShallal PeaceandStruggle

The Nepal Chronicles #1

March 2, 2021… For the next couple of weeks I will be blogging on Facebook about a trip that I have been planning the day I turned 65, which was about a year ago. I am heading to Everest Base Camp and hoping to celebrate my 66th there. I got the all clear from my … Continued

covid 19 banner2 920x460

Community Resources for COVID-19

Here are some resources that you may be able to take advantage of: Find COVID-19 vaccine locations near you Back To School After Lockdown – Tips From An NHS Psychologist One Fair Wage – Emergency Funding for Tipped Employees/Service WorkersRWCF- Restaurant Workers COVID-19 Crisis Relief Fund USBG- COVID-19 Relief Grants for Bartenders Restaurant Opportunities Centers- United … Continued

IMG 8768

Food for Thought: A Conversation with Chef José Andrés

“I think the true meaning of leadership is recognizing your weakness, so you can make them your strong points.” On October 30, we had the pleasure of hosting Chef José Andrés at our 450K location. The conversation moderated by founder Andy Shallal with Chef Andrés, discussed the humbling story of why he went into cooking, … Continued

angela

Angela Davis coming to 450K

With Angela Davis coming to Busboys and Poets – 450K next month, we thought to re-read the full transcript of her iconic speech at the Women’s March in 2017.  Be sure to mark your calendars for October 11th, 2018 at 6:30pm.  Food and drinks will be available throughout the event and books will be available … Continued

busboys books

What We Read This Month (July)

Looking for your next good read? Well you’re in luck…Busboys and Poets Books is full of busy little readers! Ellie, Bookstore Supervisor at 5th and K: It’s been a rough month for my attention span, so out of all of the books I started, I finished only two – Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain and The … Continued

Good Samaritans

Good Samaritans

Busboys and Poets’ Tribe donates appliances to recovery center that provides structured housing and recovery services for homeless and addicted people