American poet:

‘I use poetry to spread justice, inspire people’

News ID: 2952091 -
TEHRAN, Oct. 28 (MNA) – American poet, activist and artist believes any people with any talent should work to spread justice and equality in the world.

Amir Sulaiman, who attends the New Horizon Conference in Tehran for the second time, says the US is not a heaven for all races, as they claim.

“It hasn’t been a heaven for the people from my race (Afro-Americans) for sure, it is a place that requires a lot of work to be done for the races to be able to live with freedom and justice and equality. So, that is what should be done in the US,” he says.

Acclaimed poet Sulaiman believes any person with any talent must do something to show protest against racial discrimination in the US. “Any person gifted with something, it could be economic, political or cultural or whatever, can show protest, even a mother or a wife who stays at home.”

“They can do anything to show hatred against black discrimination and racism. Mothers can raise children who think different, who may work against racism. Some people are good with money, they can provide economic freedom. People like me, can resort to poetry, language, culture, so I use that to spread justice and inspire the people and give people courage, but this is just one part to bring freedom and justice. There are many other ways every person can do to have a role in spreading justice in the world.”

Answering the questions of Mehr News reporter on the sidelines of the third edition of Iran’s International New Horizon Independent Conference, African American poet Sulaiman expressed happiness he is in Iran for the second time describing it a wonderful place.

He said, "Racism is a problem that affects everyone so the solution has to come from everyone and it begins in the hearts."

He said Afro-Americans in the US are treated as if they are immigrants, “it’s like we are not American, they consider us the most dangerous people.”

“It is our place, we have made our place. There is no origin for us to go back, here is our origin,” he underlined.

He expressed gratitude over the holding of such an event in Iran calling it a unique event among Muslim countries.

“It is a strange, wonderful, beautiful occasion where the people can come together with mutual respect.”

During his presentation on the first day of the conference, he read an inspiring poem on Afro-Americans’ deplorable situation in the heart of racism in the US, which was released on October 15, 2013.

Here is the words of his poem titled “Come to the Hills” (We Must Win):

The dead won’t let me sleep
The living won’t let me die in peace
My heart filled with the yesterday that never happened
My hands filled with my face
My long breaths bleeding between my fingers

I killed myself once
But my lives are plural
That’s why I can speak to the immoral like I’m immortal
The mind is fertile
Birth a verse with no epidural
The truth hurts
Speaking life into the dead as if it’s normal

This is the lionhearted, the fire starter
“The Sound and the Fury,” William Faulkner
“The Color Purple,” Alice Walker
“Canterbury Tales,” Geoffrey Chaucer
Every people are sent a prophet
But also every people are sent an imposter
Likewise every people have been sent an author to tell their story
This is a tale of what turns a man into a monster
And what turns that monster into a martyr

In the shadow of untold trauma
The secret art of how to unfold karma
And the divine unknown drama true in living
We’re just trying to make Black history
But it’s like they’re trying to make blacks history
They won’t even write a eulogy for you and me

Misery loves company
But the company loves misery
The company will co-op your story and sell your minstrel show in HD
Our suffering seen more vividly
Obviously niggas are NSFW
They don’t wanna pay you, but peddle you
Or just petty costs to settle you
That’s why it’s hard to employ me
But even harder to ignore me

The irony isn’t lost on me
How they make slaves of the masters of ceremonies
Ha.
Clever.
Me?
Never
[...] The American Dream is a love song gone wrong
A fantasy long gone
But if you knew this
And still wanna be a slave then you stupid and useless
I’m gonna tell you straight
[...] I’m Oscar Grant
Still mourning Emmett Till
I’m Emmett Smith no NFL
Runnin’ and jukin’ it in the killin’ fields
But them killin’ fields deadly enough to make Emmett still
I admit still
Shookin’ up every time I see Emmett’s grill
Until my molars spark and I taste battery acid
Maybe that’s too drastic
Maybe I’m overreacting
Maybe seeing dead babies shouldn’t phase me
But it does
It does
It does
Are we not flesh and bone?
Are we not minds and souls?
Are eyes either blind or closed
As if we don’t see
As if we don’t know
They’ll kill you!
They’ll kill you
They’ll kill you like it’s no Biggie
No Diddy
While we arguing over who the king of New York City
They emasculate the greats
Bye Black Panther, Hello Kitty
Or slowly assassinate the greats
Goodbye, Whitney

You can see the future if you learn history
I’m speaking to you straight and right
They got you leaning right like 450
Where the wealth, weed, and women have you chasing dimes
Wasting time
Wait
Wealth, weed, women
Chasing dime-
Wow
That’s a triple double entendre and alliteration in the same damn time
Oh okay so the Sufi can rhyme
Can we not have another conversation about your top 5, dead or alive?
Instead can we talk about the top 1% and the bottom ninety-nine?
Or the wise 5% and the deaf, dumb, and blind eighty-five?
Or how the circle-seven and the one-twenty saved our lives?

On the boat with Jesus’ name
Lucifer came
And then proof of our name went poof, David Blaine
Disappeared between the noose and the chains
Euthanasia introducing the youth to the cane
So we singing
We rapping
Attempts to reducing the pain
We don’t know what else to do with the pain
We don’t know what else to do with the pain

They say, “Rap for us!”
And then they clap for us
Are you not entertained?

Standing on my brother's body
Are you not entertained?

Carrying my son’s carcass
Are you not entertained?

But even with all the battery and the abuse
We are still so beautiful
Our babies are like balls are of light
Bright enough to brighten the darkness of the battle field
But when I look into my daughter’s face it reminds me that there is a battle still
And that the battle’s real
That a draw is a win for losers
We
Must
Win
The truth is when I said the sky is mine
By mine I meant I and I
By I and I, I meant you and I
The sky is ours
Heaven’s fallen
We either fly or die
We
Must
Win
We have died so many times
They have killed us so many times
We have died so many deaths
We have died for everyone
We have died for everything
We have died for nothing
We are done with death
We are done with death
We will not die another day
We are the true and living and
We
Must
Win

Amir Sulaiman is a poet, recording artist, activist and newly appointed Harvard Fellow, born in Rochester, New York. His poems cross subjects of love, tragedy as well as what it means to reconcile humanity with the unprecedented trials of modernity. He has performed his works across the US as well as many other countries including England, Belgium, Senegal, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Australia, Iran and the Netherlands, and continues to tour world-wide.

His recently published book of poetry, Love, Gnosis & Other Suicide Attempts met with critical acclaim, in addition to his latest album "The Opening," the third in a unique trilogy project, following "The Meccan Openings" (2011) and "The Medinan Openings" (2012).

 

Interview by: Lachin Rezaian

 

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