Dana Dajani

Dajani is an award-winning Palestinian actor and writer. She has performed on stages across the world, from Chicago’s storefront theaters to the Sydney Opera House. As a poet, Dana uses her theatrical background to give her spoken word a very performative edge. She has recorded two collaboration albums with Dubai-based musicians. In 2014, Dana collaborated with electronic music producer, Aaron Kim, in an experimental EP called “type two error”. Since 2012, Dana‘s band of soulful acoustic musicians, Floetics, has lit up venues all across Dubai with their freestyle riff on rhythm and rhyme. Both albums can be found on danadajani.com.

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Edition XIII

the-way-we-are-wound-by-dana-dajani-photo-by-miguel-salgadoPhoto credit: Miguel Salgado

The Way We Are Wound

By Dana Dajani

A sound takes me back to a memory
a wind-up and then a melody
as I watch a mechanical ballerina spin
silver box top reflecting jewels and trinkets within
And this is where the tragedy of comparison begins
Tall and slender
perched on a pedestal
sad but proud
as a young girl, I mirrored her
as she spun around- perfect-
surrounded by ornaments of beauty valued for their scarcity
Those stones are treasured because they are rare and unique
but  in the features of a woman are those the same qualities we seek?
Or,  in pursuit of self- materialization,
do we sell our souls for empty idolization?
On billboards the Gold Standard is swapped for the Golden Ratio;
fit the mold and appreciation will follow
And this is the way we are wound
beauty is not found
it is manufactured

Ah, sweet femininity!
Ah, days of simplicity
basking in the warm sun
soaking up the adoration of my mom—
what will I become?
Anything is possible when you’re young
imagining different roles as you play dress up
I’d often slip into a certain pair of my mother’s shoes-
ones with bright sequins in the shapes of exotic fruit-
waiting for the day that I would measure up
always in such a hurry to grow up
Innocence fading
finger-painting quickly replaced by
make-up shading my features
Slowly jaded as time passed
I watched my shadow cast beneath me
angry at the sun now for being so unflattering

I wanted long nails and a bust
a small waist was a must
because the standard of beauty was predetermined
in my Seventeen Magazine
Automated by the machine
beauty queen mannequins
pumped out on industrial work lines
Silicon fillers and botox
pumped in to plump up laugh lines
Every goddess started to look the same 
furthering the notion that we must tame our individual identities 
and conform to some one else’s idea of normal
barbie, plastic, nameless, static
Confused and
uncomfortable in my own skin
all I wanted was to spin- ballerina thin-
to fit in
to age with dignity and grace
not replace the parts of me that reveal my age
So instead— I learned to embrace them

And the tragedy of comparison ended there
As a young woman, I grew to love my body for its Wabisabi
as the Japanese call it, perfect imperfections
And I see myself spinning

for a little girl who won’t ever receive a jewelry box from me
I will be the only jewel she sees
because I want her to be free
to create her own identity
and reflecting that shameless beauty starts in me

Video Archive

The Way We Are Wound – by Dana Dajani

Beats Like Bones on a Drum – by Dana Dajani

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