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10 Questions for Noor ('Ditee) Jaber

You approach and I offer
another girl's name. Curtains, velvet
and crushed, mostly closed. 

See it this way: coyote's tooth dangling
coy from my locs.
You approach (my hair draping, obscuring my face)
and it falls

Tonight, like disco lights, beckons my self
to myself. There's just enough light
for me.
—from "Of Starshine and Clay," Volume 64, Issue 4 (Winter 2023)

Tell us about one of the first pieces you wrote.
I wrote a lot of poetry in high school to reckon with my enormous, overwhelming feelings. I don’t remember much from that period of my life but I remember writing a lot. The first poem I remember pouring out of me was a slam poem I wrote in college. It was called Black Unicorn, and I wrote it in response to a man who performed a poem in defense of Bill Cosby (in the midst of his trial for sexual misconduct.) I remember being so incensed by the misogyny and blatant disregard for survivors of sexual assault. It wasn’t enuf to boo and heckle (of course I did) I needed to put the feeling somewhere. It was real, it was huge, it threatened to consume me in red heat. So I wrote, and I threw it at the same venue the next month, and I felt the cathartic power of writing and performing for the first time.

Crab Fat Magazine ended up publishing the piece, and I even got to throw it in a cypher at CUPSI. I used that piece to connect with other enraged Black women, and it felt like a superpower to be able to express the everyday pent-up rage that so many of us targets of misogynoir can relate to, in such a hugely emotional way. It was freeing.

What writer(s) or works have influenced the way you write now?
Abridged, and in no particular order: Airea D. Matthews, Vievee Francis, Greg Pardlo. N. K. Jemisin, Michael Sweater, Jamal Jones. Octavia E. Butler, Corey Qureshi. Venus Selenite, Rachel McKibbens, Kaveh Akbar.

What other professions have you worked in?
I’m so many things. I’ve worked in food service, retail, and grant writing. I’m a teaching artist and editor; I lead poetry workshops via Zoom (@noheroes_inlovepoems on instagram!)

I also do tarot readings (@downtoearthreadings on ig!) and work in the industry of pleasure (ask me, ha!)

I’ve tried to make writing my ‘main gig,’ something that can reliably generate income, but I don’t have an MFA, which can make getting paid (well, as in a livable wage or stipend) much more difficult. Writing sustained me until it couldn’t anymore, and I respect that fact. I decided to look for other ways to support my writer’s life and other creative work. I’m still looking for a remote position that can accommodate my disability, so wish me luck on my job search (and please send me any leads you may have!)

What inspired you to write this piece?
Last year I had a psychotic break and was 6 different people. That is not my experience today, but I learned a lot about my self, life, and the universe while I was like that. The poem is really a portrait of one of my personalities, a tapestry woven with silken threads of secrecy, fear, power, and femininity. She taught me so much about myself, what it means to be a Demigirl, what it means to be gender-fluid. My femininity is laced with a matriarchal legacy of shame, which I’m learning to let fall from me. The process of writing this poem crystalized my relationship to this secret drawer, this hidden compartment of myself.

Is there a city or place, real or imagined, that influences your writing?
Yes, two. The first is Philly, where I became a poet and learned who I was. The second is my radical imagination of our future—the manifestation of my idea of justice and freedom for my people and all people. I have to live there when I write, because that’s where I want my poems to end up, and I want them to take me there.

Is there any specific music that aids you through the writing or editing process?
I often listen to Green noise when I write, and it’s always on when I edit. Right now I’m listening to Hello Psychalleppo. Andre 3000’s new album is excellent for writing or thinking about what you’re writing. I also like this youtube channel Chantress Seba for exercising my mind and body—journaling, doing yoga, etc.--especially in the mornings before my roommate wakes up.

Do you have any rituals or traditions that you do in order to write?
I love to transition from paper to typed draft and back. If I only have one line, but it feels insistent, I’ll write it in the middle of a blank page and then write around it. I won’t type it up for 2 or 3 drafts. And if I’m stuck on an edit or can’t figure out what to do with a piece, I’ll hand write the next draft—sometimes from memory (a trick I learned from Kaveh Akbar.)

Who typically gets the first read of your work?
Sometimes my peers. I like to swap poems with my friend Corey from time to time, and there are other poets I can do that with too. I sometimes read poems aloud back and forth with my partner, who is also a poet. Lately, though, I’ve been keeping my writing to my self. I do post drafts on Patreon from time to time. My community on that platform is extremely supportive and I’m so grateful for all their comments and messages!

If you could work in another art form what would it be?
COMICS! I’m working on one right now, but my limited drawing skills are really holding me back. I hope to collaborate with an illustrator one day to bring the story to life.

What are you working on currently?
Well, I have a bunch of poems about grief and bugs and transformation that seem to want to be a collection. I have a lot more to write, but thematic arcs are starting to reveal themselves. We’re taking a break until I can spend some time with them, uninterrupted. And that comic script I mentioned. It’s called SWITCH STORY: an alternative futurist, cerebral comic about the goings-on of a reality that dismantled our oppressive society in 1920. There’s a lot more to it, but the idea’s still a baby so I’ll leave it at that.


NOOR (‘DITEE) JABER is a poet finding her way. Her work has been published by several journals such as DIAGRAM and Pleiades. Her poems reimagine grief, love, language, perspective, and power dynamics. She is the author of Praise to Lesser Gods of Love, published in 2019 by Glass Poetry, as well as self-published work via Patreon.

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