The work of Noor Jaber is a defiant rupture, by which I mean, these poems are broken and masterfully so. Jaber’s suite “English is Broken Do Not Fix It” presents the poems as a landscape fractured by lineage, of blood yes but also the lineage of English itself. “the language the english no it understand tongue of you. and no can i i feed you these the morsels from mouth of me” writes Jaber and here we are introduced early to an English that is as much language as it is a character, note here that the failing is not that of the speaker's Teita but it is English that fails to understand her. And how many times have we the reader, the body, the citizen heard “broken” and thought immediately of our own hands, our own mouths, our own lost histories? Within these poems Jaber is doing the work of fracture, in the style of Jaber’s linguistic predecessor and contemporary M. NourbeSe Philip “Breaking English to fit in [the] mouth” We see here then Jaber utilizing a form of their own invention, the “Colonial Fit”, predicated on a poem written in English that utilizes the grammatical logic of Arabic creating a country of collision within the poem. Here, even what alludes to death is caught in a linguistic neutral space by the form of the poem “i laugh. soil of the grave falls it without grace from lips of me.”
And make no mistake, this is a speaker descended from women to whom death is merely the interlude. What fascinates me about the Colonial Fit as a form is that is, to me as a reader, as much about what is lost in the act of inheriting as it is affirming and affirming and affirming what remains. Surely we can see this too in Jaber’s brilliant usage of caesura in “Smoke Break” where the spacing is irregular, in conversation with traumas in the ways any systemized language struggles to be. “the only scar knows love lives on my back / that scar harder than the rest of me” writes Jaber echoing a voice in “Grandmothers” itself a Jaber-described “interlude” within the suite “we goldskin bitches / die for less / we got scars / already raining / down our backs” Jaber’s language is a hive, a humming ancestry refusing to be consumed by the past, fracturing whatever and wherever English and history has failed to kill the poet. “us ember in throat fire in mouth consume the words/ that cannot rescue we residue we kindling/ we girls of no lung escape into space around burning” Jaber’s work is, if nothing else (and there is so much more), the space around the burning. The concept of fracture requires that something was whole and now intersects with the wind playing through the new space, Jaber makes songs of fracture, I read this suite and can only admire how the music throbs and never stops.