An Interview with Remi Kanazi on the August 15, 2013, in New York. This interview was originally published on September 28th, 2013 in the German online daily newspaper Schattenblick. Interview by Riocard O’Tiarnaigh.
The poet and hip hop artist Remi Kanazi was born in 1981 in the U.S.A., the son of Palestinian immigrants. He grew up in the Western part of the state of Massachusetts and was educated as practically the only Arab pupil in a Catholic school. The plane attacks of September 2001 along with the anti-Muslim hysteria, which they triggered off in the U.S.A., motivated Remi Kanazi to publish his first political commentaries. After experiencing the Broadway production of the show Def Poetry Jam in 2004 Kanazi took up for the first time the spoken word as an art form. In 2008 he published „Poets for Palestine“, a collection of writings by well-known Palestinian as well as politically involved American poets, hip-hop musicians and artists. The book contained a number of his own pieces.
Kanazi’s first collection of poems, entitled ”Poetic Injustice – Writings on Resistance and Palestine“, appeared in book form (plus CD) in 2011. The legendary jazz and blues rapper Gil-Scott Heron and the Palestinian-American poet Suheir Hammad are among Kanazi’s most important influences. Kanazi is a member of the organising committee of the U. S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.
In the course of his political activism he travels widely and as an artist has already toured the U.S.A., Great Britain, Ireland and the Middle East. The Schattenblick spoke with Remi Kanazi, who has been living for a number of years in Brooklyn, on the 15th of August in Bryant Park in the heart of Manhattan.
Schattenblick: Mr. Kanazi, could you tell us a little bit about your family’s history and how it reflects that of the Palestinians?
Remi Kanazi: In 1948 750,000 Palestinians were expelled from their native country and more than 450 Palestinian villages destroyed. I’m the son and grandson of victims of this ethnic cleansing, which the Palestinians call the Nakba, which means the catastrophe. My mother’s family come from Jaffa, my father’s from Haifa. Both cities belong today to the state of Israel. My grandparents, my parents and their siblings fled along the coastal road to the Lebanon in the North. More than 30 years ago they emigrated from there to the United States. They experienced the expulsion for themselves and cannot return to their former homeland to this day.