The 20th year
Sha'ar International Poetry Festival 10th Anniversary The 20th year T H E 1 0 C O M M A N D M E N T S - S H A’ A R 2 0 1 0
José María Alvárez | Ortsion Bartana | Hamutal BarYosef | Ana Blandiana | Ruth Blumert | Casimiro De Brito | Gökçenur Çelebioğlu | Riki Daskal | Marc Delouze | Zohar Eitan | Avi Elias | Israel Eliraz | Elaine Feinstein | Yael Globerman | Sivan Har-Sheﬁ | Sharron Hass | Ivan Hristov | Miron C. Izakson | Doris Kareva | John Kinsella | Tzvia Litevsky | Salman Masalha | Gilad Meiri | Agi Mishol | Schachar-Mario Mordechay | Banʼya Natsuishi | Dennis Nurkse | Rita Odeh | Amir Or | Amos Oz | Oded Peled | Lea Pilovsky | Ana Ristović | Tuvia Rübner | Ronny Someck | Arundhathi Subramaniam | Zvika Szternfeld | Raﬁ Weichert | Haris Vlavianos | Dorit Weisman | Anat Zecharia | Lina Zerón | Lior Granot | Livna katz | Nariman Karroum | Dana Lubinsky | Ora Nizard | Daniel Oz | Isaac Shachar | Shira Stav
The Commandments S H A’ A R 2 0 1 0 The 10th International Poetry Festival
משרד התרבות והספורט משרד החוץ
Poets and Poems
The 20th year
Sha’ar – Poets and Poems The Festival Book 2010
Helicon 82E ISBN 5935 – 2970 Sha’ar International Poetry Festival Copyright © Helicon 2010 Graphic design: Studio Zafrir CV’s translation: Ronen Altman Kedar Cover: Ravit Dahan Izhki, a detail from a poetry poster Printing: Elinir
Published by Helicon Society for the Advancement of Poetry in Israel Partner of Eurozine the European network of Cultural Journals www.eurozine.com Partner of Lyrikline organisation Member of Literature Across Frontiers Member of ENCWP The European Network of Creative Writing Programs Artistic Director: Amir Or Festival board: Shimon Adaf, Samikh al-Qassem, Siham Daoud, Ariel Hirschfeld, Agi Mishol, Sasson Somekh, David Weinfeld Board of Directors: Dr. Liora Barash Morgenstern (chairperson), Joseph Frost, Ahuva Gannor, Arnon Orbach, Nourit Segal, Etty Shelach Helicon Society P.O.Box 6056, Tel Aviv 61060, Israel email@example.com www.helicon.org.il
Supported by the Ministry of Culture and Sports, the Culture and Art Department, and by The Municipality of Tel-Aviv-Jaffa, the Education and Culture Department.
The 20th year
S H Aâ€™ A R
International Poetry Festival
Poets and Poems
Sex, Lies and God: Poetry on the Decalogue
Sha’ar International Poetry Festival 2010 This year we celebrate the 10th year anniversary of the Sha’ar International Poetry Festival. Sha’ar is both the Hebrew word for “gate” and the Arabic word for “poetry”, and in this spirit the SIPF has taken upon itself to open poetry gates to thought, beauty and human dialogue. For a decade the SIPF has served as an opportunity for various dialogues: a dialogue between writers and readers, a dialogue between languages, cultures and religions, and a dialogue between poetry and other arts: music, theatre, performance art, dance and video art. The Sha’ar experience is this agora of dialogues, as well as an artistic venture focusing on new poetry in Israel, on Hebrew-Arabic cultural exchange, and on cross-art commissioning. This year, even before the SIPF opens its gates to the audience, it will hold a three days international poetry performance workshop, collaboratively organised by Literature Across Frontiers and Helicon as part of the Word Express project under the auspices of the EU and the British Council. Three young Hebrew and Arabic poets from Israel and three young international poets will meet for a poetic dialogue, and later on present it on the festival stage.
Wishing to exchange views in this international agora and to learn from the insight of poetry, throughout these years we have invited overseas poets to share this poetic search with us. Poets from five continents have come to read their poems and to listen to others at these poetry gates. We take again the opportunity of this international gathering to make the voices of poets heard, as a counterbalance to the politics of fear. We believe artists and poets touch the hearts of many in society, creating from the raw material of thought and feeling the very essence from which we create our tomorrow. It is their work that often
gives validity and meaning to our reality of today, shares its insights with us and calls us into action. We believe in getting together, and in dialogue, for the simple reason that we have no other sane way to deal with disagreements. We say no to hatred, fear and indifference, for we still believe in the power of human spirit and in our striving towards a better future of tolerance, pluralism, understanding and peace. This year, the SIPF takes the 10 Commandments as its theme, and invites us all to explore the various ethical aspects of society, culture, and our own lives. Through poetry and other arts we will try to expose some ‘golden calves’, self imposed commandments and ethical traps, but also aspirations, visions and better understandings of human relationships. The first three imperatives of the Decalogue refer to God, faith and worship, whereas the rest form a universal code of ethics. Nevertheless religions have been a chief factor in human code of ethics, although not always in the best way. Here, in our war-stricken region, religions and politics have often been dangerously mixed. Adultery, dishonesty or faith can be part of a private “Sex, Lies and God” drama, but murder, theft or coveting your neighbour’s property can be just the same when applied to social groups, nations, or humanity as a whole. Learning how to live together is especially crucial for us humans, and yet throughout history conflict has hardly been the exception. To say the least, human history is a far from pleasing testimony to ethical behaviour. In fact, one may observe political history as a long chain of actions in which individuals and groups have been trying with varying degrees of success to suppress other individuals and groups. As a species, exploitation and enslavement seem to have been
one of our main goals for centuries, and even now globalisation and the capitalistic survival of the fittest seem to be doing the same old thing through economical strategies. Socio-political structures, from families to empires, seem to have worked along the same lines for ages: power rather than reason seems to have ruled history. One could conclude we can’t do anything about it, and even discussing it is rather futile. But how can anyone aspiring to a free and better world agree with such a responsibility-evading conclusion? Assuming responsibility is the basic ethical action, without which there is no action but only reaction, no vision but only daydreaming. Denying one’s right to his own responsibility and vision is the main agent of mental slavery and despair. Denying our right to responsibility and self reliability is denying human dignity and integrity. Responsibility seems to operate concentrically. Our first ring of responsibility encompasses just ourselves individually, securing our own physical survival and taking care of our health and well being. Obviously enough, in our second life ring, responsibility includes taking care of our children and families, and in an additional ring – our friends and colleagues. But does responsibility end with these inner rings? Can one ignore his responsibilities for the community or humankind and hope to achieve the maximal good for himself only? Individual good and the common good are not contradictory, and in fact they are inseparable. At the end of the day we ARE interdependent, and to achieve our survival objective we need to extend the range of our responsibilities further. The next rings of responsibility have to do with striving for the maximal good of our associates, city, and whole society. Still further, individual
responsibility would need to encompass humanity at large, and finally all life forms and physical existence as such. The maximal good we can hope for would simply mean an action that takes responsibility for more people or for more life rings, and harms none or the least possible. With this golden rule it seems we won’t go wrong if we say that the maximal good is at the same time that which is successful in terms of survival; not the survival of the fittest, but the interdependent survival of the maximum life possible. However, this simple rule of the maximal good isn’t really news. It has been propounded by all great philosophies and religious teachings, and yet we fail to apply it once and for all in our individual endeavours and our social structures. Starvation, war, overpopulation and pollution are not the effects of our lack of technology or resources, but of our lack of responsibility. How, then, can we gain more responsibility? – Well, it’s free for the taking: simply by choosing to take more and more of it, by enlarging more and more our concern for more and more life rings. This can be applied to every action we have to decide upon, and it’s always a present time choice: widening one’s responsibility could be thought of as a goal rather than a fulfilling a set of designated duties. At the end of the day it is the human desire to do good and our potential for responsibility that seem to be our quest: not slavery but freedom not law but ethics. This is the key with which we can open the treasure house of our common riches, the very human qualities that poetry and art strive to enhance: human love, wisdom, imagination, creativity and beauty, all of which are riches that are made abundant when shared. Amir Or
José María Alvárez was born in Cartagena in 1942, and currently lives in Paris. His numerous publications include the poetry books Libro de las Nuevas Herramientas (‘Book of New Tools’, 1964) La Edad de Oro (‘The Golden Age’, 1980) Sobre La Delicadeza de Gusto y Pasion (‘On the Delicacy of Taste and Passion’, 2006) and Bebiendo al Claro de Luna sobre las Ruinas (‘Drinking to the Moonlight above the ruins’, 2008). Additionally Alvarez published five volumes of essays and memoirs and eight novels, the latest of which was Naturalezas Muertas (‘Still lives’). He translated into Spanish works by Jack London, Robert L. Stevenson and T .S. Eliot, the complete works of François Villon and Constantine Cavafis, and Shakespeare’s Sonnets. His poems and novels have been translated extensively. For his literary work he was awarded the “Barcarola” International Poetry Prize 1989, the ‘La Sonrisa Vertical’ Prize 1992, and the Loewe International Poetry Prize. Alvárez presided in 1986 over the International Writer’s Encounter in Murcia, Spain, and in 2004 appointed member of the Mallarmé Academy of Poetry in Paris. Alvárez is the creator and director of the eleven editions of Ardentisima International Poetry Encounter, that have taken place in various cities around the world. He has also organized the Poets Encounter at Córdoba in 2004, planned as part of the city’s candidature to Cultural Capital of Europe. He has coordinated courses on liberal thought in Murcia, Cartagena and El Escorial.
José María Alvárez | Spain
Tosigo Ardento  Coming out of the mist in the cold of a sad sea the great health spas float the long wooden walkways disappear as in a misted mirror. Lone deckchairs awnings folded. And you hear the break of an ancient wave. The boat’s prow balances solemnly in the whiteness. I remember my grandfather’s old motorcar. End of summer, the first chills, at dusk; some men grappling with boards doors and windows in the ramshackle beach-house. And the car, black, huge magnificent, like a funeral hearse. Silence of photography: we all go up. I see the beach distancing from the window the wind moves the palm trees. Meanwhile I grow old. Some Girls go by in bare feet on the sand, they protect their necks with their arms around their jerseys. I hear them laugh. Their faces are lost in the mist. The waves break slowly. Like smooth dying animals the moorings creak. With the sound of the sea the music of some distant speakers arrives, an arcade of bumpers.
A note on Poetry I’ve never known how writing comes into being. Yet, even as a child I was fascinated by reading and felt the urge to write. And even now, at the age of sixty eight I still believe that the one thing we should aspire to is to know what not to write, to know how to erase anything that should remain in the realm of non-existence. As to the Ten Commandments: they are rules that were written in order to improve society and should apply to everyone. In my case - I am not a believer and do not follow the rules and decrees of any religion. Although I was baptized as a catholic, I’m a heretic – with a deeply-rooted religious sentiment that forms the moral base of my attitudes towards life and the world in general. The authors I admire include Shakespeare, Tacitus, Virgil, Stendhal, Stevenson, Borges, Cavafy, Dante, Schopenhauer, Tolstoy, Flaubert and Thucydides the ones whose work I read time and time again.
01 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me.
Ortsion Bartana, born in Tel Aviv in 1949, is a poet, prose writer, essayist and researcher of Literature. He has published nine collections of poetry, as well as short stories, novels, literary criticism, and literary research. His books include Every Tree has its Sky (1967), Islands and Counties (1980), Bird in Hand (1996) and Noahâ€™s Ark. Maybe (2006). His literary works and essays have been translated and published in periodicals in about 30 languages, as well as in books in English, French, Russian, Swedish and Georgian. For his literary work, he has received the Brenner Prize, the Prime Minister Prize, the Holon Prize and the Bernstein Award. He served as the chairman of the Hebrew Writersâ€™ Union and edited its magazine, Moznayim; He was also president of the P.E.N club in Israel. Professor Bartana has taught in Tel Aviv University, Bar-Ilan University, Ben-Gurion University and the Haifa University. Currently Bartana is a professor of literature in the Kibbutzim College, Tel-Aviv, and serves as the Dean at the Samaria University Centre in Ariel and as editor of Moreshet Israel, a research journal of Jewish Studies there.
Ortsion Bartana | Israel
An Historical Point of View The Twins were destroyed by the child who built them. Suppose here he’s called God. His father took him to a huge sea with a huge spade and a huge pail, told him: Sit, play, don’t go in the water, it’s dirty again. And in no time at all – from sand he created elevators and windows, beams, steel. For the cockroaches he housed there, it was a festivity. They ran around in all directions, they made their century with fear and with insolence. And then, fed up, within a belch or two (Suppose here they call it: Decades) he destroyed them. Lord Almighty, what happened? After all they were only made from beach sand. P.S. And apart from this, thus or thus, even when solid-state is changed, everything stays forever, keeps dancing in circles. Surely, just now, just recently, they discovered a kind of rule of preservation to all ...and anyway, what exists at all apart from sand and sea?
Translated from Hebrew by Riva Rubin
Hamutal Bar-Yosef was born in 1940 in Kibbutz Tel-Yosef, to Ukrainian-born parents who lost most of their family during the Holocaust. She has published 9 volumes of poetry, among them If not in a hurry (1971), Food (2000), and Convalescence (2004). For her poetry she has been awarded the AKUM Prize (1985), The Presidentâ€™s Prize (2002) and the Brenner Prize (2005). Her poems have been translated into 11 languages and published in periodicals and in four books in Russian (Food, 2004), English (Night, Morning, NY, 2008) Hungarian (2009) and Arabic (2010). Bar-Yosef translated into Hebrew prose and poetry from Russian, French and English, including On money, old age, death and more, by Yulia Viner (2003); and The collected works of Isaak Babel (2009-10). Her literary criticism, was published in The Tastes of Reading (2006), and her essays on culture, Judaism, and ethics in Cries and Whistles(2005). Her professional research produced six books and numerous essays, especially on the Russian context of Jewish literature and culture, and on the role of mysticism in modern Hebrew poetry. Bar Yosef taught Literature at the Ben Gurion University and worked in the Department for Curriculum Development in the Ministry of Education.
Hamutal Bar-Yosef | Israel
When I am Left Alone When I am left alone I am sucked dry and want to die, to wrap myself in the duskâ€™s downy feathers sink into it like a broken submarine and close myself in sleep. When I am left alone my strength flows out of all my orifices into the ground, leaving me hollow, carried off â€“ wicked chaff in the wind. When I am left alone, I have no me at all, I have only not this, not that, not him and alas, alas -And every one is a stone.
Translated from Hebrew by Rachel Tzvia Back
Ana Blandiana (pen name of Otilia Valeria Rusan) is the author of 22 books: 14 of poems, 2 of short stories, 1 novel, and 5 essay collections. Her works have been translated into 23 languages, including Chinese and Korean. She was awarded many national and international prizes for poetry, including the Herder Prize (1982) , the Vilenica International Prize (2002) and Premio Internazionale Camaiore (2004). Blanaiana also received three interdictions to publish in her country, in 1959-1964, 1985, and 1988-1989. In 1989, Ana Blandiana re-founded the Romanian P.E.N. Centre and became its president. She is also the president of the ACADEMIA CIVICA Foundation, which set up - under the aegis of Council of Europe - the first memorial for the victims of communism in the world at Sighet, Romania. Blandiana is a member of the European Academy of Poetry and of UNESCOâ€™s International Academy of Poetry.
Ana Blandiana | Romania
Non-Choice Brought to the great judgement That ends with the sending to earth, I, found innocent, Have been given the right to choose myself. But neither man, nor woman, Nor animal did I want to be, Nor a bird, or plant. The seconds are heard dropping From the great right to choose. They are heard breaking against the rock: No, no, no, no. In vain brought to the judgement, In vain innocent.
Fall The prophets in the desert have died out And angels with drooping wings Are led in columns And gathered in the squares. They’ll soon be judged. They’ll be asked; What sin Has chased their beings from the havens? What guilt? What trespass? What betrayal? With their final love, They’ll look at us with sleep-misted eyes And will not find the devilish daring To avow that why angels fall Is not sin, not sin, But tiredness.
Translated from Romanian by Peter Jay
The Sixth Sense
I still remember the surreal feeling from a few years ago, when I published a collection of poems titled Poems (1964-2004). 40 years of poetry? Yet how many of these 40 years have borne the intensity of poetry? One year? Two? A couple of months? Since, obviously, only the flashes must be accounted for. But how many flashes could have possibly happened in 40 years of poetry? Which is the quantity of poetry a life can stand? The art of poetry amounts to the ability to design the diagram of these flashes, as on a temperature file that says everything on the “sacred disease”, leading one not to death but to immortality. Something similar to the boiling essences resulted in an alchemist’s alembic: essence of matter (in our case: the word) and of time. The saying goes that the cells forming a body keep dying and being replaced by other cells, each and every second, and so every seven years you are another person, with a completely different structure, in the effect that events from the your past seem to you more foreign than a scene from Dostoyevsky or Flaubert. There is no such phenomenon in poetry. On the contrary: poems written long ago, read and read anew, cited and recited, over and over again, are more mine than the poems of my latest, as yet unpublished, book, which I still have not managed to learn by heart. The poems become mine not through writing, but through reading. What more extraordinary proof that I am not the author of my poems, that I am 16 only the path they take to enter the world? I have
at all times the strange feeling that it is not me who writes but another who does it through me, without even telling me what it is all about. And I, confusedly, not only do not feel hurt by this, but am as proud as a court lady whose king has fathered her new child. In any event, before answering a question such as ”How does one write a poem?”, one must underline the reflexive form of the question. A poem writes itself, it is not being written. I do not write the poem, the poem writes me, in its flesh. The main concern of the poet is not to use too many words. True poetry is written in fear of literature, and the ideal, almost absurd tendency of modern poetry is to tell the least in order to imply the most, until it disintegrates into silence. In such a noisy world as ours, where there is so much talking, the purpose of poetry has become to restore silence. This is the reason why one metaphor is always more important than ten metaphors, and my endeavour is not to look for things that have not been told before, but for something that cannot be told, thus trying to give expression to the inexpressible. The art of poetry consists of the ability to see, and to make others see, not the yet unseen but the invisible. Poetry gave me a sixth sense, the presentiment of the other in the world. The other watches me out of the stones, the plants, the animals, the clouds. An Other who only in moments of extreme tiredness gets to be called Nobody. This is closer to miracle than to craft. I have always dreamt of a text built on many levels,
similar to those old monastery walls covered by scenic images wherein, from certain angles, you can make out the face of a saint. And yet, at the same time, what fascinates me is
Translated from Romanian by Monica MoroĹ&#x;anu
simple, elliptical, almost schematic poetry, poems having the charm of children drawings, when you are never sure whether the outlines be not themselves the essence.
Ruth Blumert was born in Haifa in 1943 and lives in Jerusalem. Her poetry books include The Angel (1984), The Turret (Keter, 1984), Exiles on a Strange Planet (1991) and Acquaintance from Another Age (1996). She also published children books and translated from English various works of prose, as well as The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Coleridge (2001). For her poetry she was awarded the Prime Minister Prize and the Jerusalem Prize for Literature. Blumert holds a B.Sc. in Microbiology and Biochemistry from Bar-Ilan University and a Masterâ€™s degree in Hebrew Literature from the Theological Seminary in New York. She directed the Israel Gur Theatre Archive and coedited the theatre periodical Bama.
Ruth Blumert | Israel
The Mask That symbolizes the soul of a dead woman The eyes have lost their oblique linearity And gaze forward. The nose is an equilateral triangle And the arched mouth gapes open, exposing teeth Whose appearance is skeletal. The cheeks are sunken And the incisions on the clay chin And the plastered-down hair The eyebrows are joined like arches And cast a shadow - What mastery over the void! The actor under the mask moves in opposition To the face that has been imposed on him.
Translated from Hebrew by Esther Cameron
Casimiro De Brito, born in Algarve, Portugal 1938, is the author of 56 titles: poetry, fiction, aphorisms and essays. His works have been included in more than 190 anthologies and translated into 27 languages. For his literary work De Brito was awarded many literary prizes, among them the Viareggio Versilia for Ode & Ceia (Ode and Supper, Collected Poems), the Leopold Sedar Senghor International Poetry Prize for his poetic career, the European Poetry Prize for the best book of poetry published in Italy in 2004 (for Libro delle Cadute), and the Poeteka prize (Albania). He attended Westfield College in London, where he discovered classical Japanese poetry. In 1953 he started his cultural activity, and currently is a professional writer. He lives in Lisbon, from where he is travels extensively. De Brito edited several literary magazines and anthologies and produced several poetry festivals in Portugal. He is president of the general assembley of Portuguese P.E.N. and advisor to the World Haiku Association in Tokyo. De Brito was nominated World Peace Ambassador and accepted into the Order of the Infante D. Henrique by the president of the Portugal.
Casimiro De Brito | Portugal
Peace Should I ask you for peace, what would you give me little insect of memory of whom I am nest and food? If I did ask you for peace, the stone of silence covering me with dust, the ruby voice of fruits, what would you give me? held breath of another body under my body? Forgive me for being so alone, and talking to you all the way from my exile. Forgive me if I donâ€™t ask you for peace. I just ask: What would you give me instead, if I had asked you for it? Wisdom? A horse with green eyes? A tree-trunk, wood for me to carve on it your name next mine? Or merely a knife of fire, never quiet, in the centre of my heart? For nothing I ask you, nothing, â€” I visit, simply, your ash body. I talk to it about me, hand you my destiny. And from it I shake free just by asking you: What would you give me if I asked for you peace and you knew how I want it in full dress in honour of a crust of sun at liberty?
Translated from Portuguese by Jonathan Griffin
My first steps in poetry
Poetry came to me very early, in my childhood, at my grandfather’s home. It was a kind of animal’s farm with all local and exogenous trees, sometimes just one or two of each species, and plenty of exquisite and friendly beings, the horses and donkeys, hysterical rabbits and chickens, the patient cows, bees, goats, crickets and cicadas, multicoloured fishes, pigeons, wall-lizards and our eternal frog. A kind of locus amoenus, the real paradise on earth, if you are a child, if you keep in you the amazement of the child that you have been. Every night, by the fireside, my grandfather rallied the family round himself, and every member of the tribe should report to the others the essential of his day. “All your life, grandfather said, all the world is contained in each of your days. So be yourselves, find your way.” One of my cousins reduced his days to numbers, the other described minutely what he did, and I, an ever-listener to the music of the world, I resumed my days to poetry… quatrains… following my good musical hearing. So poetry came to me through the oral tradition, long before learning to read and write. I was still a teenager when I published my first book and I have put in it the Western tradition of poetry: Baudelaire is there, and Whitman, and Pessoa, tutti quanti, and curiously the book was very well accepted by the official critics. For me it was at first a pleasure, to be accepted as a poet at 18 years of age, but not many months later I felt 22 it was a disaster, “a young poet”, I thought, “can’t
be accepted like that.” It was terrible; I knew I had to find another way, which way? At the age of twenty I went to London, to attend some summer courses at Westfield College and there, in my bedroom, the current room of an Eastern studies’ professor, I found a fantastic small library of Chinese and Japanese poetry. I felt a double and sudden passion, by the Chinese jué jù and by the Japanese haiku. The Chinese classic form has some similitude with the ancient Galician-Portuguese cantigas de amigo of the thirteenth-century and so my white attraction, my real coup-de-foudre was the Japanese haiku, with its unsurpassable capacity to say discretely the most profound feelings of a man regarding his affinities with nature (so many times forgotten) through an aesthetic based on irony and patience and concentration. That was my second revelation of the mystery of poetry; my second birth to the essential elements of life, to my truth. A real rebirth. Etc.
02 You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them.
Gökçenur Çelebioğlu was born in Istanbul in 1971 and spent his childhood in several Turkish cities. He graduated from the Electrical Engineering Faculty of the Istanbul Technical Univercity and has a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Istanbul University. He started publishing poetry in 1990. His first collection Handbook of Every Book under the pen name Gökçenur Ç was published in 2006 and won the Arkadaş Z. Ozger prize for Debut Publication of the Year. He published a second book, The Rest of the Words in 2010. His poems were published in literary magazines in 13 languages. Çelebioğlu has translated into Turkish works by Wallace Stevens and Paul Auster, as well as an anthology of modern Japanese haiku. He is currently preparing an anthology of modern American poetry. Additionally Çelebioğlu is the founder and co-director of Word Express site (www.wordexpress.org)
Gökçenur Ç | Turkey
Night The man said your name is the opposite spelling of the word for “night” in a language we don’t know at all I would like to call you “night” in that language (Summer passed like a shiver from the reedbed which is ablaze with burning sea birds) The woman said: you have always avoided excitement you seek peace in the simple harmony of monogamy let the bee buzzing in a wet rose sting the rain let the rope stretch and break trying to understand women only gives you pain They took off each others’ glasses Silence was delousing the hair of darkness
Translated from Turkish by Alexandra Buchler and the author
An Unstable Equilibrium
The usual first question “How did you start writing poetry?” is not very important for me. A more important question is “Why do we continue to write poetry?” There is a screen between the world and us. This screen is language. We either perceive trough the screen of language or think by it. So the “system” in power controls the language to control our perception and thoughts. I bend this given language with poetry, break its day by day tightening borders and widen it. I continue to write poetry so as to find a chance to perceive the world and think about life. I write about things that have stories, without telling the story. They say “there are gaps in your stories”. I reply “Is the lace out of node or hole?” For me, poetry should represent the equilibrium between dream and truth, reality and fiction, hidden and revealed. This is an unstable equilibrium.
I never know how to start writing. Then I wander but don’t look around to find something to write. The eye looking for writing selects, changes before writing, transforms while writing. I believe all that selection is wrong. I wander and search for nature. It is not transformed into words yet. Maybe it is equivalent to a skylark looking for eternity.
03 You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.
Riki Daskal, born in Haifa, 1953, published four books of poetry, the latest of which were The Memorial Book of my Belly (2001) and Shew Bread (2007). She received the Israeli Writers’ Association Aleph Prize for poetry. Daskal is a theatre graduate from Tel Aviv University. She holds a degree in literature and education from the University of Haifa and a Master’s degree in Judaism from the Schechter Institute. She completed the MATAN certification course for teachers of creative writing, and between 1976 and 1983 appeared on stage in the Haifa, Beer-Sheva and Habima theatres. Daskal has initiated private productions that combine the literary and the theatrical, with a focus on women and women’s issues. She perforemed in “Within it” (1985), an poetry event by female writers, and “A Train in Bavaria” (Acre Festival, 1986) a play based on texts by Miriam Fuchs (one of the first writers to deal with the experiences of ‘the second generation’ - children of Holocaust survivors). Daskal teaches stage speech at the Beit Zvi School and the Kibbutzim Seminar.
Riki Daskal | Israel
Song of Stones My face is soft as clay in a child’s hand as a rock in the hand of God waves of stone splash away as I cross the desert a skilled ship and each stone a breath, each breath a stone and I want to touch each stone each stone to touch I want to caress each stone each stone to caress to turn Bare body on each stone on each stone bare body to feel their warmth their chill their pores their crevices feel their roughness their roughness their spike to feel stone meets body body meets stone like wine to tongue like eye to beauty like belly to pain Yet I was satisfied with less a puddle of shade under a desert tree the sight of deers on a mountain slope the soul in me
Translated from Hebrew by Sophie Jungreis and Shosh Avni
Marc Delouze was born in Paris. He is a poet and traveller “by the force of things”. He debuted with the poetry book Memories of the House of Words (prefaced by Aragon) in 1971. After his initial success, Delouze refrained from publishing for twenty years during which he has worked and researched new methods of poetic expressions connected with modern city life: street performances, poetry with music, etc. In 1982 he created “The Poetry Forum” that organises events, festivals, acoustic exhibitions, readings, etc. In 2000 he created a new festival in Paris (Montmartre) with poets, actors, musicians, dancers, singers, painters, and video artists. Currently Delouze is literary advisor to the poetry festival “Voices of the Mediterranean”, which takes place in Lodève. His latest pulblications include the poetry books T’es beaucoup à te croire tout seul (You’re Many to Believe Yourself Alone; La Passe du Vent, 2000), Epouvantails (Scarecrow; Lanore, 2002) and the essays collection La Diagonale des poètes (The Diagonal of the Poets; La Passe du Vent, 2002).
Marc Delouze | France
Desert of evaporated words He is sitting, He has no name Of course, he exists. Or almost: he is on the point of existing. He sits on the previous edge of existence. He is on the outer limits of the dune and of men, the eye confronted with emptiness, with its own convexity. In the silence of his awakening being as never was the horizon, space is a look he learns to look at. The desert will name him. The desert is a word that imprints him on the inside of its skin, like the books that write us onto the page of the Great Memory, on the geological asphalt of the way that passes us out. He does not move. Time shifts and advances towards him. Existence approaches him from the furthest infinity. On its way it grabs strips of sand from the dunesâ€™ summits like dead skin on the face of the sun, like love or pain grab fragments of ephemeral syllables from stratified bodies. He says nothing. Write, he is not able to. On the point of existing, he must preserve his inner most being in readiness. Seated, let us leave him there. We we are here. Translated from French by Patrica Nolan
Poets and poems
« Poetry » may be a filter, a fine-meshed sieve, a concealing veil stretched coyly between reality and the senses, a way of escaping this reality, an “extra helping of soul” which societies tolerate with compassion and a touch of condescension, a witness to the “other world” in which poets, lying in immaculate shrouds stitched with their own white hands, pathetically wave the extinct torches of their inaudible poems: more often than not, anthologies resemble cemeteries in which the living dead, full of their own silent inanity, pompously hold forth. On the other hand, poetry – no quotation marks this time – may function as a developer of the real, a shredder of illusions, lies and other misuses of meaning, when it employs language like an acid, without, however, injuring the imaginary. A difficult and hazardous enterprise, but especially necessary in these sly, creeping times. They who feel irrepressibly drawn to the writing of poetry must then enter “supreme difficulty”, if they are not “to fall by the wayside and remain there” (Thomas Bernhard). In this inexhaustible and exhausting, yet supremely urgent need to write it all down, in full view and with absolute percipience, poetry arouses what arouses her and arouses us all: what is harsh or gentle, saturated or sketched, stroked or scratched, obscure or dazzling, visible or guessed 32
Translated from French by Anne Talvaz
at. Rather than resort to the facile juggling of oxymorons, it tosses words and images like marker stones into the fallow field of language, or buoys into a stormy sea. Rather than resort to the “poetic”, which, as Henri Meschonnic reminds us, is most often “the poem’s worst enemy”, poets have a duty to question their imperious need to “tell a story” in the sometimes flickering, sometimes brutal light of the language they themselves are questioning; this enables them to weave a poetry both narrative and untamed, as did Blaise Cendrars or Henri Michaux – the latter in his “travel” works – and, to cite a more contemporary instance, Derek Walcott, in his remote yet intimate voice.
04 Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God.
Zohar Eitan, born 1955, researches and teaches music theory and cognition at the Tel Aviv University. He has published two volumes of poetry: Shu Hai Practicing The Javelin (1996) and What Is It (2007). Eitan won the Teva Poetry Prize of Metula Festival (2007), the Ministry of Culture and Educationâ€™s Prize for Debut Publication and Heliconâ€™s Hezi Leskli Memorial Scholarship. He is a graduate of the first class of the Helicon Poetry School (1994).
Zohar Eitan | Israel
What Does the Serial Killer Want? The Serial Killer wants it all to be Love. Like an egg, he explains. All Unlove should be taken out, says The serial killer, pared, like an Egg. It has no place, he Says, all that is not Smooth enough, Or round, or White.
Translated from Hebrew by the Author
Avi Elias was born in 1955 and grew up in Ramat Yisrael, a povertystricken Tel Aviv neighbourhood. As a teenager, he had to quit school to get a job, and in the afternoons apprenticed as a mechanic in Garage Dan. Elias served in the Navy and in the Ordnance Corps; during his service he learned drama and started writing poetry. His books include Acorns (1988), The Crown of the Dream and God and a Fat Man in a Yellow Jeep with artist Menashe Kadishman. Elias was a literary critic for the daily newspaper “Davar” (1993-94) and the literary periodical “Moznayim” (19956). He worked as a civil service investigator for 30 years and was the secretary general of ‘Dror - the Association for the Advancement of Art among Prison Inmates’. He is currently reporter, columnist, and cultural correspondent for “Israel Post” and personal advisor on social issues to MK Ilan Gilon of Meretz .
Avi Elias | Israel
Metal Model The artistâ€™s hand is sculpting you in bronze. You are beautiful, stripped of wool, only skeleton to your affixed skin, the sculptorâ€şs finger-pads wrapping a hot moment in your body railway.
Translated from Hebrew by Motti Elias
Israel Eliraz was born in 1936 in Jerusalem. He published in the 1960sâ€™ three novels and two collections of short stories. Eliraz is also a playwright and ten of his plays were staged in Israel, Europe and the U.S. Cooperating with the composer Yosef Tal he has written 5 librettos for operas performed in Hamburg, Munich, Rostok, London, and New-York. As a poet Eliraz debuted with Bethlehem Road in 1980 and since then has written only poetry. He is the author of 23 poetry volumes, most recently Eulogy of Ephemerals (2010) and Urgent Matters, Poems 1980-2010 (2010). Many of his books have been translated into French and won him numerous prizes, including The Prime Minister Award, Nathan Alterman Poetry Award, several ACUM Awards, and the Byalik Prize.
Israel Eliraz | Israel
Love Poem Could I have then known there is no way back? Can I imagine for a split second that we never met? What happens when I place love on the paper and stare at it like at a hat that can be stared at? What for? When they first noticed that I was in love, I died of shame. Later I was proud as one can be proud. Of oneâ€™s shame that will never again be repeated Someone, who passed by me â€˜ said (behind my back) a man in love Today the heart knows it must endure the test of distance and to mark you, in an unfamiliar code, almost savage When did I really tear something to shreds? In what way (or distress) is my love poem also me? What is a quiet doubt if not illumination
Translated from Hebrew by Gabriel Levin
Elaine Feinstein was born in Bootle, UK, in 1930, grew up in Leicester and studied English at Newnham College, Cambridge. She has published fifteen novels, numerous radio plays, five biographies and fourteen collections of poetry. Her first novel, The Circle (1971) won the Betty Miller prize and was long listed for the â€˜lostâ€™ Man Booker prize in 2010. Her most recent novel, The Russian Jerusalem (2008) won a major Arts Council Award. In 1990 she received a Cholmondeley Award for Poetry and was given an Honorary D.Litt from the University of Leicester. Her most recent poetry book is Cities (2010). Her biography of Ted Hughes was short listed for the Marsh Biography Prize; her most recent biography, Anna of all the Russias (2005), was translated into 12 languages. Feinstein was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1980 and in 2007 was appointed to the Council. Her translations of Selected Poems of Marina Tsvetaeva, (1971) have never been out of print; a much enlarged edition, Bride of Ice, was published by Carcanet in 2009. In 1995 she was Chairman of the Judges for the TS Eliot Award.
Elaine Feinstein | UK Stetl in Belarus after R.B. Kitaj, ‘Babel Riding with Budyonny’ A swirl of ochre – then a brighter yellow fills in the woodcut lines of an alien figure; another stubby man wears a red scarf : Carnival colours. What’s the story here? This is the euphoria of Revolution: Ukraine in flames, the air a grey smoke. Ash beneath dark skies. From a horse’s white rump, the colours turn in a kaleidoscope. But where is Babel? Such insolence for a myopic Jew – to ride alongside Kuban Cossacks into Chagall’s villages of dirt-floor shacks. The Whites have already trashed the stetl. Babel rides with the Red Cavalry, shamed by their courage, though they loot and kill. Bystander angel, he records the dying. Kitaj has sketched a man with a bird’s head, against the scribbled map of a little town, an image styled after a medieval Haggadah, telling the story of Passover. Secrets of a shared family tree: the faithful passions of the trapped, the cheating promises of liberty – Kitaj, like Babel, draws the savagery.
A writing life
It’s easy to see why I turned towards American lyricism when I first began to write poetry in the 50s. I was looking for a tradition that could accommodate the voice of an outsider. As I was born in Liverpool, with grandparents who were Jewish immigrants from Odessa, and moreover a woman, I felt myself on the periphery of the literary world. Reading English Literature in Cambridge did not much affect that sense of myself, but, while there, I began to take a perverse pride in it. It seemed an appropriate, even honorable, position for a poet. For the most part, my American mentors were outsiders themselves, but ebullient unfrightened figures, vastly preferable to the English poets then fashionable who seemed too timid to expose any indignities of feeling. I relished the American lyric voice, the ear for syllables and line endings. My early poems took off from people in my own life, just as the people who entered the poems of Charles Reznikoff. I was soon in correspondence with a whole troupe of Black Mountain poets, most notably Charles Olson. I listened to the hesitations in my spoken voice as they did and marked them with two spaces. When I first began to translate the poems of the great Russian poet Marina Tsvetaeva – with the help of a Russianist – I transmuted the dashes she used to indicate the jagged transitions in her train of thought into two em spaces. But she rapidly became the most important influence on
my life as a poet. After working on those versions of her poems which went into my first selection (1971 OUP) I began to see form as a matter of a spoken voice flowing down the page, pushing against a stanzaic structure. And I no longer wrote open verse. Long ago, Donald Davie pointed out that I recognised myself in Tsvetaeva, even though my life was not marked by the same tragedies of loss and exile. In both of us the usual tensions of wife, mother and poet were written dangerously large. I was drawn to her ruthless insistence that writing poetry took priority over domestic responsibilities. For me, Poetry has always been a way of feeling more alive. And the English poets of the past I most love – Wyatt, Herbert, Wordsworth, Lawrence, Dickinson – are those who renew my alertness to the world around me.
05 Honour your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.
Yael Globerman, born in Tel Aviv, studied cinema at the Tel Aviv University and painting and sculpture at the Free Academy of Visual Art in the Hague. She is the author of the novel Shaking the Tree (1996) and two volumes of poetry - Alibi (Helicon, 2000) and Same River Twice (Helicon, 2007). For her poetry, Globerman was awarded the ACUM Prize for Poetry (2000), the PAIS Award (2002) and a Fulbright Art scholarship (2008). She has also published A Soulâ€™s History, a collection of her translations to Stephen Spender, (Keshev 2007), and forthcoming are her translations to collections by Ann Sexton and W. H. Auden. Globerman is on the editorial board of the poetry journal Helicon and leads creative writing workshops at the University of Haifa and at Oranim College. Her poems were translated into nine languages and published in literary magazines and anthologies in Israel and around the world.
Yael Globerman | Israel
The Mistress You come at night making the long pilgrimage up my stairs climbing as if upon an earlier woman, the one that came before the very first wife; Had she stayed with you, you swear, you’d still be deep in paradise. I am not bone of your bone, am formed from the snake, the apple, Not your simple rib, gently calcified by time, leaning against the wall of home, anchored in the armchair. My thighs are scissors shredding another woman’s life and with the same stroke cutting me off from the quiet in the room. I choose to harm her. Every lover is Lilith. Then I’m alone again. My son’s faint weeping passes softly in a dream like a rickshaw filled with milk. I wake to total silence. Who is that woman, lying in her clothes very close to the wall in the street of a double bed. In every triangle there is one rib jutting out, cutting the lungs while the other two pant. Excuses fall from the naked body.
Translated from Hebrew by Karen Alkalay-Gut
Sivan Har-Shefi, born in Jerusalem in 1968, grew up and lives in Efrat. She published the two poetry books The Whale’s Exile (2005) and Psalms for a Noisy Day (2010). For her poetry she was awarded the Harry Harshon Prize, the ACUM Prize and the Ministry of Education Prize. Har-Shefi holds a Master’s degree in Hebrew literature from the Hebrew University; her thesis, A Demand for Multifacetness - Polymorphism in the Poetry of Yona Wallach: Hybrid, Metamorphosis and Alchemy was published as a book in 2005. Currently she works on a Ph.D. thesis on the works of poet Uri Zvi Grinberg at Bar Ilan University. Har Shefi moderated the Jewish women’s seminary ‘Uri’ in Jerusalem. She teaches creative writing at the Herzog College in Gush Etzyon and edits with her husband Avisar the literary magazine Attar.
Sivan Har-Shefi | Israel
from: Sarah God speaks to me from behind the curtain in the tent kitchen He secretly confides in me like a woman who is my neighbour. A place warm and filled with smells, wrapped in steam, I sift flour and a ray of light penetrates the rising air itâ€™s a kind of revelation a flash of light off the copper of the polished pot the crescents of white dough on the black tray pieces of the plate that fell a mixture of powders and spices the God of beauty and of dissonance communicates with me in pictures not in words God who speaks with Abraham at the entrance who walks around with him like a guest outside and contemplates the future comes within the dough I knead comes like a household member in the lively candle flame causing me to quiver my guest resembling women forms of future twisted in the lentil soup I invented a recipe for healthy love.
Translated from Hebrew by David C. Jacobson
Sharron Hass, born in 1966, is a poet, essayist and lecturer. Her poetry books include The Mountain Mother is Gone (1997), The Stranger and Everyday-Woman (2001) and Subjects of the Sun (2006). For her poetry Hass was awarded the Prime Minister Prize (2002) and a Fulbright Scholarship for the Arts (2005). Her poems were translated into seven languages and published in periodicals in Israel and abroad. Hass studied and taught in the Department of Classical Studies at Tel Aviv University and holds a Masterâ€™s degree in Comparative Religion studies. She currently lectures on literature at the Kerem Institute in Jerusalem, teaches creative writing programs in several universities and will serve as a resident poet at the Ben Gurion University in 2011.
Sharron Hass | Israel
I Burst into Big Laughter I burst into big laughter – And abandon it. Is the feast here? Is it here earth’s women Sleep with giants? The tulips with the tyranny of proud beauty Bent their necks like lizards lurking after prey. What is the last memory of Eden? An angel’s loathing gaze! Behind his lion’s shoulder the gardens cooled like steel. Disgusted at our sight, half naked, and suddenly filthy with dirt That was steamy and sweet with moist fire dropping around the trees. Facing the angel’s bitterness, we grasp/understand/perceive that we were raised in the heart of cunning: In the heart of the insatiable gaze. And love? Love grows wild here Since the theft of knowledge, desperate for light Desperate for water like lilies, crabgrass, squill. Craving time we wander in search of comforting words A bosom lacking warmth Left only with the mold of an embrace – the burden of a promise.
Translated from Hebrew by Irit Sela and Amalia Ziv
Ivan Hristov, born 1978, is a poet, a critic and a performance artist. He graduated in Bulgarian literature at Sofia University in 2001 and published his PhD thesis “Bulgarian Modernism in the 1920s” at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences in 2008. His literary career began in 2001, when he won first prize at the national student competition in Shumen, and his first book of poetry, Sbogom devetnajsti vek (Farewell To the 19th Century, 2001) won the prestigious 2002 Southern Spring award for the best debut book. His second collection, Bdin (2004) won the 2006 Svetlostrui Prize for poetry. He also won first prize in the Poetry Marathon in Hvar at the Goran Springs Festival (Croatia, 2009). He currently participates in the Word Express, a project for literary exchange in South-East Europe. Hristov, a leading literary critic of his generation, wrote numerous academic publications; his book-length research study, The Sagittarius Circle and the Concept of the Native, won the Bulgarian Ministry of Culture’s National Culture Fund competition and was published in 2010. He currently works as a researcher at the Institute of Literature in the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. As a performance artist who mixes text and music in his compositions, he regularly plays the traditional Bulgarian folk flute kaval .
Ivan Hristov | Bulgaria
Bernie And we talked about the difference between Catholicism and Protestantism, and he confided in me their wish to see women priests and for gays to be accepted by the church. Then he asked me how things were with us. I told him that our Christianity was more conservative and more mystical, and that we donâ€™t talk much about our problems. He was amazed. I didnâ€™t dare tell him that for 45 years we didnâ€™t have God at all and that now we were happy simply to pray.
Translated from Bulgarian by Angela Rodel
The Mirror of Subjectivity
It is very difficult to talk about poetry in principle. Through so many centuries of human existence it has had thousands of incarnations. What I say here does not pretend to capture more than my personal view – and that within the framework of the present point in time. For me, poetry is the art of subjectivity; it is to the highest degree an art of the individual. If we wish to understand a person intimately, we must ask him what poetry he likes. This is why lovers share poetry. According to one Bulgarian poetess, no one is ashamed to be called a poet, but everyone is afraid of being seen writing poetry, since poetry is the mirror of human subjectivity. In this sense, it is the essence, the spine, the emanation of every literature. Poetry is like the first-aid kit in the car that is every literature – if a crisis arises, if there’s an accident; it’s the first thing you reach towards for help. Sometimes this is quite risky for those who create it – the poets. In the past poetry was a means of communicating with God. There have been periods in human history during which poetry was the paramount genre. Today, poetry and poets have been shoved into the world’s dark corner. As the art of subjectivity, poetry teaches us individualism, yet contemporary humanity is not particularly fond of individualists. Nevertheless, humanity cannot exist without poetry. With its brevity, it forever reminds us of life’s fleetingness, which in some sense disturbs us, but at the same time keeps us vigilant. Poetry cannot enter the same market-driven relationships as prose – proof that it is much closer to human nature. Poetry 52 is a reservoir of humanness in today’s artificial
world. This is why its functions are close to that of religion in the past; it begins where reason leaves off. It is possible to have professional writers, but it is not possible to have professional poets, since poetry is not a profession, it is an essence, a way of being. Reading poetry is an exchange of essences. Rhythmic speech was the first artistic phenomenon of human language and as such it preserves something unique about human culture. Poetry has helped convey human culture through time. I recently took part in a poetic reading to benefit Haiti. The poetry read there sounded exceptionally moving. Today, we humans remember poetry and poets only in times of crisis – but even that is enough. Poetry will save humanity.
06 You shall not murder.
Miron C. Izakson, born in 1956 in Haifa, is a fourth-generation Israeli. Izakson published eight books of poetry, most recently Collected and New Poems (2007), and four novels, the latest of which was Aliza with Child (2010). His poetry was also set to music by musicians Yoni Rechter, Evyatar Banai and others. The latest CD, Man, performed by Eli Magen, was released in 2006. For his poetry, he was awarded the President Prize and the Kugel Poetry Prize. Seven of Izaksonâ€™s books (prose and poetry) were published in translation, in the U.S., Norway, France and Russia. He studied law and Jewish philosophy at the Hebrew University and Tel Aviv University, and is currently an associate professor at Bar-Ilan University. Izakson initiated a regular column on the weekly Torah portion in Haâ€™aretz daily.
Miron C. Izakson | Israel
Departure Departed your body Like a boy whoâ€™d never left home before Going back for a purposely forgotten book And again, to give Mother a vigorous kiss And finally, to haul out the bed of his youth. Returned to your body Harried by the near and dearly multiplying Who must all be comforted in dying. The pillar of fire in my skull Rushes headlong to douse my hair.
Translated from Hebrew by Betsy Rosenberg
Doris Kareva, born in Tallinn 1958, published sixteen books of poetry and one collection of essays, Meanings (Verb, 2007). Her selected poems DEKA was published by Verb in 2008 and her bilingual book The Shape of Time (Arc) appeared in the UK in 2010. For her poetry she has been awarded numerous prizes, including two national cultural prizes (in 1993 and 2005). In 2001, Kareva was awarded the Order of the White Star by the president of Estonia. Her poems and essays have been translated into 25 languages. Kareva translated poetry, plays and essays (Ahmatova, Auden, Beckett, Brodsky, Dickinson, Gibran, Kabir, Shakespeare etc). She edited anthologies; wrote essays, articles, and texts for music and theatre. She has lectured on culture, education and ethics in Estonia and abroad.. Kareva graduated Tartu University cum laude in RomanGermanic philology (1983) and worked for the cultural weekly â€œSirpâ€?. In the years 1992-2008, Kareva was the secretary general of the Estonian National Commission to UNESCO. She is a member of Writers` Union and PEN, and alumna of the 2006 Writing Program in the University of Iowa.
Doris Kareva | Estonia
■ For all who have gone astray at sea, for all who have spilled the day, I pray tonight in the fading light of the candles, from a tiring heart’s last pain and power I pray. Come, tramps, crooks and cripples, vagabonds and courtesans, chiromancers and pimps, loafers, liars, junkies, bums, boozers and prodigals; you, the frightened, the hungry, the cold, you, who were born unfathered, you, turned down by the world, you, who’ve been lost and despaired for so long — you’ll get the softest beds for rest tonight. For you I will set the table, fine wines and delicious dishes — come. I shall recognize you, there must be some of your blood in mine... Only for one, the gate will fall silent. Sadist, you are a stranger to me.
Translated from Estonian by Andres Aule
What Is Poetry?
This question has been haunting me since I started to write, that is, from the age of four. And I am still not able to explain it any better than answer the question: what is electricity? A mysterious incomprehensible entity with several contradictory meanings? I believe I recognize poetry once I see or hear it – just like one recognizes electricity when receiving a shock. Poetry, as well as electricity, is both matter and energy, moving forward in the speed of light and at the same time vibrating without moving forward at all. Not only have they much in common, but seem to be closely connected in physical experience. How to make poetry? One simple recipe is to pick up all strange flowers that fascinate you, passing by. Take your passion, longing, fear and despair, imagination, fleeting thoughts, moods and fancies – all that stuff dreams are made of. Mix them, add strong spirits, bottle up and keep from light for a while. The elixir you get will be the quintessence of language. It contains all flavours of life as you sense it, yet something else – the surprising element of truth you never knew before. This magic potion, created by your deeper self, has strong healing power. As a child, inspired by Greek mythology, I created an imaginary universe with several gods and goddesses. Each of them had a character of its own, as well as realm of power. Their temples 58
were secret places in my home town I chose to be sacred. Whenever I felt lost and helpless, I went to the temple of this or that deity and performed a special ritual. I concentrated, then wrote my plea on a small piece of paper, ripped it into tiny pieces and flew into the wind. To be heard, I had to use words sparingly and be very clear. Even if these gods were my own imagination, they deserved to be approached in appropriate language. It was a worthwhile experience. I never thought, however, that I was practising poetry – or that poetry, just like electricity, is magic. I still wonder how it works, but I know it works wonders. One of my first poems translated into English said: The essence of poetry is secret and its form is silence.... The young man who translated it is now the President of Estonia.
07 You shall not commit adultery.
John Kinsella was born in Australia in 1963. His most recent volumes of poetry are his selected and new poems, Peripheral Light, introduced and selected by Harold Bloom, (WW Norton 2004), Shades of the Sublime and Beautiful (Picador, 2008) and Divine Comedy: Journeys Through a Regional Geography (WW Norton, 2008). His critical book Activist Poetics: Anarchy in the Avon Valley appeared this year in Liverpool University. His reworking of Milton’s Comus (Arc, UK, 2008) was commissioned and performed for Christ College’s 400th anniversary celebrations of Milton’s birth by the Marlowe Society. Kinsella is a vegan anarchist pacifist who works across genres. His ‘fictionist’ novel, Post-Colonial: a récit appeared recently with the Soi 3 Gold imprint of Papertiger media. He has lived for many years in Cambridge, England, and Gambier, Ohio, where he taught English and writing. He now resides in the Toodyay district of Wheatbelt, Western Australia, and is a Professorial Research Fellow at the University of Western Australia. He remains a Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge University.
John Kinsella | Australia
Thou Shalt Not Kill: ‘Our only field known to fame...’ Thoreau (‘Where I Lived’) The fields here muzzle around copses of wandoo or York gums and look calm as green undercurrents slowly and gently sweep beneath the aurulent stubs of dead crops, but foreboding rather than comfort comes up out of this chartreuse sweep which would mollify our casual glances, or settling within the cycles of production; this bareness in its hints and glints is more than allusion to distant arcadias, much more in its fresh or spent flags for lives lost: all who moved or stood still, affixed, all who thought or dreamed or kept their manner silent to my — our — way of hearing. It is so still today the air cloys about our eyes and we squint because of glare. We look hard at what might have been. We listen and taste the air. Our skins tingle with a sense of being able to move away and forget before we’ve imagined or remembered, sheep quaint in their march to the troughs, windmills drawing water from an aquifer near spent though it recently rained.
On Poets, Poetry and the Commandments
I reject rules in most things. As an anarchist, I do not believe in nation states in any form, nor in any form of centralisation, but I do believe in community and a shared ethics to ensure the individual and group rights of communities. I have chosen Thou Shalt Not Murder/Kill because it is at the core of my life’s belief as pacifist, but also as vegan. For me, thou shalt not murder/kill includes animal life as well. And though honouring God, as per the pivotal commandment/s, may be taken as an excuse to impose belief systems and hierarchies on those who are unbelievers, I’d prefer to interpret it in the context of spiritual liberty. One’s own God as much as a shared God, but even one’s own ethics and shared ethics. The definition of ‘God’ is in flux for me, not a fixed entity. So I can appreciate the drive behind that as a spiritual affirmation rather than as a tool for religions to impose orders on their followers (and non-followers!). So where do poets come into this? Well, for me, poets have an obligation to be political, and to comment on the deprivations of liberty many people in the world experience on a day-to-day basis. And for me, I take that obligation into enunciations on the rights of animals and ecologies in general as well. I consider myself an activist poet. That doesn’t mean I want to write polemic, as I don’t. But all my poetry is backgrounded against these concerns and might be read in the context of witness or protest. Poetry 62
is a powerful medium. Poetry was my earliest form of written expression. My mum was a poet, and it was seen in our house as the best way of expressing what one would otherwise find difficult to express. Or, indeed, to express a feeling about an issue that in one’s actual activities might not yet be the case. For example, Elizabeth Bishop greatly enjoyed fishing and yet was aware of the contradictions when she wrote her poem ‘The Fish’, which ends with the blunt announcement: ‘And I let the fish go.’ When I was a child I did fish, and kill fish, but in writing a poem about the horrors of marlin fishing, I started to think about transferring what I could explore in a poem into my actual way of living. It took time but that’s what poetry did for me. It’s a personal journey, but one affected directly by poetry itself. I have been vegan for twenty-five years now and believe in every sense in the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’, even if I don’t want to be ‘commanded’ by anyone or anything.
08 You shall not steal.
Tzvia Litevsky, born in Tel Aviv, published five volumes of poetry, including In the Grace of Darkness (1998), Donâ€™t Point at Me (2003) and Liturgy (2010). For her poetry she received the Ministry of Culture award for a debut publication and endowments from the Pais Project and the AMOS foundation. Litevsky studied philosophy and literature at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and classical singing in the Jerusalem Academy of Music. She performed as a soloist with the Israeli Opera and various orchestras, in recitals and in recordings. She currently works as a teacher and lecturer and writes literary critisim and essays.
Tzvia Litevsky | Israel
In The Beginning There Was Void 1. In the beginning there was Void. Its stare Gave birth to its idol in me. 2. In the beginning there was Void. Cut in the glamorous blue of the day, In herds, it bustles around, Vigorous. Ramified, audacious Is the spread of its horns. And I am the one who Lurks in the thicket.
Translated from Hebrew by the author
Salman Masalha was born in 1953 in the village of Maghar in the Galilee. In 1972 he moved to Jerusalem and lived there ever since. Masalha writes in Hebrew and in Arabic and published seven books of poetry among which are Green Bird Song (1979), Sea Feathers (1999) and Mother Tongue (2006) in Arabic, and In Place (Am Oved, 2004) in Hebrew. His poems were translated into many languages and published in anthologies and poetry magazines worldwide. For his poetry in Hebrew he was awarded the President Prize. Additionally he translated several books of poetry from Arabic into Hebrew, including collections by Sahar Khalifah and Mahmoud Darwish. Massalha publishes essays, opinion columns in newspapers, journals and anthologies in Arabic, Hebrew and other languages. His selected essays were pulisehed in Between the Lines (2010).
Salman Masalha | Israel
On Three Lies Love stands on three lies. On the pangs of conscience as you come stealthily to a married woman, whose husband left her on a Friday night. On the jealousy of the woman who remains alone when her husband departs to revive desire that has gone quite limp, and on righteous benevolence to just one woman.
Translated from Hebrew by Vivian Eden
Gilad Meiri, born in Jerusalem in 1965, published three volumes of poetry: Organic Pagan (2003), Tremors In Jelly (2006) and Advanced Search (2010) and participated in Ketovet anthology of the ‘Ketovet’ group. He published the short stories collection, The Office of Citizen’s Stories (2008) and edited Inner Goalpost, an Anthology of Football Poems (2009). His poems have been translated into English, French and Arabic. For his poetry Meiri has been awarded the Prime Minister Prize and the Zvulun Hamer Literature Prize. He is a graduate of the Helicon Poetry School and a member of the literary group ‘Ketovet’. Meiri has been the director of the Poetry Place Project (www.poetryplace.org) and the ‘Square Meter’ Poetry Festival in Jerusalem. He is also one the editors of the group’s literary journal.
Gilad Meiri | Israel
Execution Our routine patrol identified a suspicious figure in an abandoned house we surprised him (or maybe it was her) and he was caught after a short debriefing we understood this was a wanted man or actually a woman (it’s hard to tell these days) so we had to execute him or her and you must understand we couldn’t take prisoners but because of what happened to Lorca you know we received instructions to wait until there was clearance from headquarters and believe me or don’t in the end we shot him or her with clearance and all but later it turned out there was a computer or human error and we shot this suspicious figure for no reason but because it was a mistake he or she didn’t die or is still not officially dead this kind of thing happened every day back then was in the newspapers but only today can we talk about it.
Translated from Hebrew by Rachel Tzvia Back
Agi Mishol was born in 1947 in Transylvania (Romania), to a family of Hungarian descent, and resides in Kefar Mordechai. She published fourteen books of poetry, including House Call (2010), Collected and New Poems (2003) and Fauna an Flora, on which she collaborated with artist Jan Rauchwerger (2010). Her poems were translated into numerous languages and published in anthologies, literary magazines and several books in Ireland, France, Romania and the U.S. For her poetry she received many literary awards, among them the Yehuda Amichai Poetry Prize, the Kugel Prize, the Prime Minister Prize and the Dolitzky Prize of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She teaches at Alma College of Hebrew Culture in Tel Aviv.
Agi Mishol | Israel
Separation The ceremony was modest. A government clerk handed me your final papers. You who never graduated anything were suddenly entitled to a lovely death certificate with the symbol of the state as if you had mastered something and fulfilled all the requirements. She asked me if I wanted to update (that’s what she said) father’s death certificate. Then she placed them side by side like a pair of matching gravestones and pressed the electric buzzer. I went down to the street walking like a little girl holding the hands of paper parents flapping in the wind.
Translated from Hebrew by Lisa Katz
Schachar-Mario Mordechay was born in 1975. His first poetry book The History of the Future was published in 2010. His poems have been published in major periodicals, literary supplements and internet magazines. Mordechay won first prize in the â€œPoetry on the Roadâ€? competition of the Tel-Aviv Municipal Board, 2010.
Shahar Mario Mordechay | Israel
Falling Away Like A View (or: History of the Future) Again a new era has been promised. It’s already here, curled like a fetus. About to be born. They say it’s a new world. But here is the history of its future: Somewhere at some point in time documents and papers will be required. It will be a receptionist at a government office or a security screener at an airport, but in every era somewhere in the world a gendarme is liable to demand papers. This means: Somewhere in the world a passport will be forged. There is no escapee without a pursuer. There is no shelter without a storm. The world is a rifle butt The night – flashing police cars. At least one person – perhaps even you? – will lose the way, pray it ends. There he is, look, leaning on the parapet of the dark; boats going by downriver and cars on the bridge grab him for a fraction of a second. He jumps. Or stays. But manages to fall away like a view through a window. Your window, perhaps?
Translated from Hebrew by Vivian Eden
Ban’ya Natsuishi, born in Aioi, Japan, 1955. Studied at Tokyo University where he received a Master of Arts in Comparative Literature and Culture. Published 13 haiku collections including Labyrinth of Vilnius (2009) and 7 collected haiku criticisms including Haiku Juomujin (2010, co-authored with Sayumi Kamakura). He edited 7 volumes of multilingual world-wide haiku anthologies, translated into Japanese, the latest being World Haiku 2010: No. 6 (2010). His haikus were translated into many languages, including English, French, German, and Italian. He published 10 books abroad, among them A Future Waterfall (1999 & 2004, USA), Flying Pope: 127 Haiku (India, 2008) and Concentric Circles (Serbia, 2009). Natuishi was chosen as Poet of the Year by “Haiku-hyôron” (1980), won First Prize in a competition sponsored by haiku monthly “Haiku-kenkyû” (1982). He was awarded the Shii-no-ki Prize (1984), the Modern Haiku Association Prize (1991), the Hekigodô Kawahigashi Prize of the 21st Century (2002) and the Azsacra International Poetry Award from “Taj Mahal Review” (2008). Natuishi currently works as a Professor at Meiji University, publishes the international haiku quarterly “Ginyu” and is co-founder and director of the World Haiku Association.
Ban’ya Natsuishi | Japan
10 Commandments haikus
1 Sandstorm: I’m carrying a thinking god
The battlefield must be being covered with feathers
Older than Christ a cross made of wood
A thief speaking of democracy— a haiku party
On Sabbath Day traversing the sea: a coincidence
One lie and another compounded in the city of blazing heat where a haiku is born
The estuary where neither the rising or setting sun’s visible I call mother
* Numbered after the respective commandments
Translated from Japanese by Jack Galmitz, Jim Kacian and the author
For and from Haiku: A Verbal Nebula I have been writing haiku poems since 1969, when I was about 14 years old. Haiku for me remains the most attractive short poem, though I have read the Western vanguard poetry including Lautréamont, Charles Baudelaire, Paul Eluard, Ezra Pound, Allen Ginsberg, etc., I have read them as student as well as scholar. As you know well, Western vanguard poetry in the 20th century received some of its greatest inspiration for a new poetics from haiku translated from Japanese. Now I am an expert of haiku writing, as prose is more important than poetry in the confused days following the prime time of our humanity. Haiku is a hyper-poem, it can function without season words, it can easily remove itself from fixed form. Haiku may not be the shortest poem, since human beings may address a cry of few syllables as the briefest and the most appealing poem, as my following haiku suggests.
A cry like a flash makes us become babies again I like “silence” which means thinking vividly without clear selection of words. This mental and physical chaotic state brings up many layers from the depth of my unconscious. My haiku writing is always linked with such “silence” which should not be confused with “satori” or spiritual 76 enlightenment.
A 2 line-poem shorter than haiku may be poetic, but if it is statically balanced in its 2 lines, a productive poetic tension cannot emerge. 3 lines or 3 fragments of words can build an unexpected universe stimulating our imagination, memory and our existence itself. This is what is haiku for me. The figure 3 is the smallest figure for building a whole unit with substance. Reading my own haiku, I sometimes experience the excitement of the illusion.
A heavy rain of pearls on a deep-black clown The words “rain”, “pearls” and “clown” in this haiku begin moving actively as 3 gods in a pagan myth to make up a verbal nebula. I can see this poetic genesis emerge upon the paper on which my haiku is printed, I bear witness to the verbal genesis like a hyper-personality with peaceful surprise and curiosity, not a god. That’s all I can say now for my passion and mission: haiku.
09 You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.
Dennis Nurkse (poetry published under “D. Nurkse”) is a poet, a translator and a lecturer, living in Brooklyn, New York. He is a graduate of Harvard University and took graduate courses in education at Saint Joseph’s College. He taught literature and poetry at Columbia University, Brooklyn College, Rutgers University and New School University. Today he is a faculty member at Sarah Lawrence College, teaching poetry and poetics. Nurske published nine volumes of poetry, the latest of which were The Border Kingdom (Knopf, 2008) and Burnt Island (Knopf, 2005). He received several important awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship (2007-8); the Charles Angoff Prize given by “The Literary Review” (2004); the Frederick Bock Prize from The Modern Poetry Foundation (2003); Artist Fund (NYFA) fellowship (2000) and poetry fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (1995 and 1984); and the Whiting Writers Award (1990). His poems appeared in numerous periodicals and anthologies, and his articles were published in “The New York Times” and “The Literary Review”. Nurske was co-translator of Words and Time: The Poetry of Alaide Foppa de Solorzano (La Vida Press, New York, 1985). In addition, he held creative writers workshops with prisoners at Rikers Island Correctional Facility (1999-2008) and with inner city students (1996-2005).
D. Nurkse | USA
Ben Adan The American commanded me in gestures, dig a hole. He tossed me a shovel but the blade had dulled and the haft was splaying so I had to rein in that strange wild energy as I opened the earth to my shins, then my knees.
But I know it is just a technique to soften my resistance-perhaps in a moment he will lift me up and hold me trembling, more scared than I and more relieved.
At thigh-depth I found a layer of black loam and a tiny blue snail that seemed to give off light. The agent called my name. High above, he mimed a man kneeling, hands clasped in prayer. He must have knelt himself because I felt the muzzle pressed against the shallow furrow behind my left earlobe-a part of my body I never knew existed. He pulled the trigger.
Poetry is the silence after an eloquent speech, a sick child coughing during the virtuoso recital. Poems last. There’s an anonymous lyric from medieval Spain in which a prisoner speaks of his confinement in a dungeon “in May when the fields are white to harvest, when the lark and nightingale arrange their trysts”–the prisoner says he lives in perpetual darkness, and only knows the time because a small bird sings every dawn. “Today,” the poem concludes,” the sentinel killed it with his crossbow. God damn his eyes.”
In a remedial school, a 12 year old African American girl who the bureaucracy said was illiterate wrote a poem entitled “To The Phoenix”: “I know how you rise from the ashes/I do it everyday/what amazes me/is that you can remain on fire.”
That poem of ultimate divestment, scratched on a wall with a nail, survives long after the castle was razed and whoever was lord–let alone sentinel–has perished forever.
There’s an Argentinian folk song in which a miner says “when I die, only this song will remember me.” That’s the seriousness of poetry. Though not particularly prone to gratitude or any kind of positive attitude, I feel very fortunate to have been allowed to give my life to this art.
In the political arena, poetry is the grossly personal statement that no one has the indecency to speak. In private life, poetry is the awareness of community. It counters. Academics don’t realize how deep poetry goes in people’s lives: how much power there is in its powerlessness.
I’ve been fortunate to teach in universities and graduate seminars, but also in prisons, shelters, and inner city schools. I remember teaching in a prison: four inmates were gathered to study: one said, he woke in the middle of the night with a poem in his mind but couldn’t write it down because of the guards; another said he had the same experience; so had the third and fourth; they looked at each other in amazement: “you’re poets? Prisoners like you?”
I’m not arguing for popular as against refined poetry. They are all of absolute value. We know almost nothing of ourselves; all means of exploration are crucial. It’s unclear that there’s any contradiction except in the minds of dilettantes.
10 You shall not covet your neighbour's house; you shall not covet your neighbour's wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbour's.
Rita Odeh, born in
Nazareth in 1960, writes poetry and prose. She published six books of poetry, including Revolution against Silence (1994), A Diary of a Gypsy Lover (Cairo 2001), One Tear Before Getting Suffocated (Cairo 2004) and I Will Try You Once More (Palestinian Poetry House, Ramalla 2008). Odeh won first prize in a haiku competition of the World Haiku Association and her poems were translated and published in webzines around the world. She published one book of literary essays, I am Your Dizziness (Ramalla, 2009), and wrote two novels, unpublished to date. Odeh holds a Bachelorâ€™s degree in English and comparative literature from the University of Haifa and has worked as an English teacher in the Nazareth Municipal High School.
Rita Odeh | Israel
A tongue that cannot say: “no..! “, is not a tongue of a human being
Translated from Arabic by the author
Amir Or, born 1956, Tel Aviv, is the author of 9 volumes of poetry. His latest publications were the fictional epic Song of Tahira (2001) and the poetry books The Museum of Time (2007) and Heart Beast (2010). His poems have been published in anthologies and magazines in 36 languages, and in 5 books in English, most recently Poem and Day (both by Dedalus 2004, 2006) and Plates from the Museum of Time (ArtAark 2009). Other books were published in Polish, Romanian, Arabic and Macedonian. He translated into Hebrew 8 prose and poetry books, including The Gospel of Thomas and Limb Loosening Desire, an anthology of Erotic Greek Poetry. His awards include the Bernstein Prize, the Prime Minister Prize, the Pleiades honour of Struga International Poetry Festival, a Fulbright Award for writers, and the Minister of Culture Prize for Translators, for his translations from ancient Greek. Or studied philosophy and comparative religion at the Hebrew University, where he later lectured on the ancient Greek religion. He cofounded the Helicon Poetry Society and serves as its chief editor. He initiated its literary magazine, the Hebrew-Arabic Poetry School, and the SIPF. Or has taught creative writing in Israel and abroad. He is a contributing editor of “Atlas” and national coordinator for the UN-sponsored “Poets for Peace”.
Amir Or | Israel
A Glass of Beer The perfect murder has no reasons, he said, the perfect murder needs only a perfect object, as it was in Auschwitz. Not the crematoria, of course, but as it was afterwards, outside working hours. And he fell silent looking at the froth on the beer and taking a sip. The perfect murder is love, he said. The perfect murder doesnâ€™t require anything perfect except giving as much as you can. Even the memory of gripping the throat is eternal. Even the howls that rocked my hand, even the piss that fell like grace on cold flesh, even the heel of the boot awakens another eternity, even the silence, he said, looking at the froth. True, a decent arbeit macht frei, but a perfect murder doesnâ€™t spill a drop, like the lips of a child, he explained, like sand and froth, like you, listening, sipping and listening Translated from Hebrew by Theo Dorgan and Tony Curtis
Amos Oz was born in Jerusalem in 1939. He published twenty eight books of prose - novels, collections of short stories, essays and literary reviews. These include Where the Jackals Howl (1965), My Michael (1967), Black Box (1987), A Tale of Love and Darkness (2002), On the Slopes of a Volcano (2006) and Scenes From A Village life (2009), as well as The Same Sea (1999), a poems novel. His books have been published in 36 languages, including English, French, German, Arab, Finnish, Chinese and Polish, and he is the most widely-translated Israeli author. In addition, Oz published essays and opinion pieces on politics, literature and peace in papers such as Yedioth Aharonot, Ha’aretz and The New York Time. For his literary work he received, among others, the Israel Prize for literature (1998); The Goethe Prize (2005); The Heinrich Heine Prize (2008); the French Légion d’honneur; the Freedom of Expression Prize by the Norwegian Author’s Union; the International Medal of Tolerance (awarded by the Polish Ecumenical Council); the Corine International Book Award for his life’s work; the Prince of Asturias Prize (2007); and honorary doctorates from the Hebrew University, the Weitzman Institute and Ben-Gurion University. Oz served as head the Department of Hebrew Literature in the Hebrew University, and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In recent years, he has been considered a candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Amos Oz | Israel
Mosquito Dita slept with a good friend Of Ricco, Gigi Ben Gal, got upset when he called The fuck, intercourse. She got nauseous when afterwards He asked how much she enjoyed it on a scale of one to ten. He had an opinion about everything, started babbling That female orgasm was less physical and more emotional. Afterward he discovered a fat mosquito on her shoulder, Squashed it, cleaned, rustled the local paper, And then fell asleep on his back, his arms stretched out in a cross, Leaving her no place to lie. And his prick shrank And fell asleep with a mosquito on it, blood revenge. She showered, combed, put on a black t-shirt that Ricco forgot In her drawer. More or less. Emotional. Physical. Sexual. Bullshit. Sensual. Erotic. Day and night ideas. Not this. This. Whatever is squashed can’t be repaired. Got to go see what’s up with the old man. (From “The Same Sea”, a poems’ novel)
Translated from Hebrew by Karen Alkalay Gut
Oded Peled, was born in 1950 in Haifa and currently resides in Kibbutz Kfar HaNassi. He published thirteen books of poetry and one novel; his latest were Introduction: Collected Poems 1973-2005 and Wind Chymes, Flutes of Light: Poems and Translations, both at Keshev Publishing House. For his poetry, he was awarded the Prime Minister Prize in 1997 and 2007. Peled translated into Hebrew selected works by Walt Whitman, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, William Carlos Williams, Saul Bellow, Henry Miller, Ernest Hemingway, Salman Rushdie, Jack London and others. For his translations he received the Minister of Educationâ€™s Prize for Translators in 1990. He holds a degree in English Literature from the University of Haifa.
Oded Peled | Israel
I See a Mountain I see a forest I say: God, Let me be bird-screech, wind in treetops I see rain And say: let me be clear and flowing I see a mountain I say: God Let me be a mountain
Lea Pilovsky, born 1970, holds a Bachelorâ€™s degree in literature and a Masterâ€™s degree in organizational sociology, and works in special education. She is a graduate of the first class of the Helicon Poetry School (1994). Her poems have appeared in various periodicals and literary supplements, and her first poetry book, Art is was published in 2009. In 2010 she was awarded the Teva Poetry Prize at the Metula Poetry Festival.
Lea Pilovski | Israel
To the Head Nurse at Rambam Hospital in Haifa, from Arles There’s a bridge here now, I’ve finally found a yellow that is so right. If you›re not waiting for me there I had best stay here. The beauty of this city will impress me deeply, especially the dazzling light and striking colors of Provence. Bouts of depression and hallucination or whatever you may choose to call them, will drive me to sever a piece of my earlobe, or maybe lose it in a heated brawl. Despite my mental state or thanks to it I will create the Sunflowers and the Café Terrace at Night. Don’t worry, I will consent to being committed to the sanatorium at Saint-Rémy. Do worry, this hospitalization won›t prevent me from getting up one day and shooting myself in the chest but don’t worry none of this will happen in Arles, here there’s still a bridge and hope that you’ll be there when I return. That you’ll be there. That I’ll return.
Translaed from Hebrew by Daniel Oz
Ana Ristović was born in 1972 in Belgrade. She has published the following books of poetry: Snovidna voda (Dreamwater; 1994, Branko Radičević’s prize), Uže od peska (Rope of Sand; 1997), Zabava za dokone kćeri (Party for Lazybone’s Daughters; 1999, Branko Miljković Prize and the Igalo Book fair prize), Život na razglednici (Life on a postcard; 2003), Oko nule (Round the Zero; 2006), and P.S – Selected Poems (2009). She was also awarded the Hubert Burda Preis for young European poetry (2005). Her poems have been translated into nine languages and have been published in anthologies, poetry magazines, and three books in Slovakian (2001), Slovenian (2005) and German (2007). Ristović translates from Slovenian into Serbian, and has so far translated 14 books of modern Slovenian prose and poetry. Ristović completed her studies in comparative literature at the Department of Philology in Belgrade. She is member of the Serbian Literary Association, the Serbian P.E.N. Club and the Association of Literary Translators of Serbia.
Ana Ristović | Serbia
Purge While white-washing the apartment I decided on a book purge, but threw away only the catalog of editions from ’85 and a few books of poetry. From then on the shelves swayed and creaked like some distant tubercular lungs and persistently stuck in Dostoevsky’s flat like meta-punishment. And every night from your name, Osip M* the snare travels to my neck and the head descends to her alone: you have all my telephone numbers.
Translated from Serbian by Brian Henry
What are good materials for a poem? Are any words undesirable for poetry? Is there anything you can’t write a poem about? You can’t just write poetry about anything! – shout some fans of metaphors and great truths. There will always be those who don’t recognize something very important in, for example, the plums from W. K. Williams’ This is just to say : that you can write a beautiful love poem without any of the ‘big words’. Instructions: wake up early, eat all the plums from the refrigerator, and leave a note for someone: I have eaten the plums that were in the icebox and which you were probably saving for breakfast Forgive me they were delicious so sweet and so cold And here’s the poem. Feel it and taste it. Is something missing? No, nothing. If you think so, maybe you never experienced sharing a refrigerator with anyone. If you have such 94
experience and still think that there is no love in this poem – read more poems, eat more plums and think about them, about their colour and shape, about the place in which they grew and its surroundings, and about the hands that picked them. Poetry has never been a false virgin who goes out on the streets wearing a chastity belt or hides in the maids’ room; even if only experienced, hers can be the whole world, not just the starry sky seen through a small window in which curtains fit - if necessary - during the eclipse. You can write poetry about everything. A wrinkled plastic bottle, a starving city cat, a half-eaten sandwich around which pigeons fly, a billboard advertising mobile telephony or women’s underwear, an empty bus station, or gasoline stains on the asphalt – all that can be the subject of poetry. Because if you are a poet, you will arouse the great meanings and truths from the small things which surround us all. Poets don’t forget that today we can see the sun reflected not only in the clear surface of the river, but more often in the gasoline spot on the asphalt, where at the same time it produces the wonderful colours of the rainbow. Wonderful? Yes, poets often use irony. Or use shop windows, or missing the sun. Poets know how to combine what was left of the ‘chipped’ reality which surrounds us and what was left of the not-so-always-generous light.
As always, they are good observers of and witnesses to the world and to things which other eyes may not be able to see and recognize. They cannot change the world, but they can change our
insight of it: teaching us that when we are talking about plums, we may also, at the same time, be talking about love, and that every plum is a world in itself, as it is also every palm in which it ends.
Tuvia Rübner, born in Bratislava, Slovakia 1924, immigrated to Israel in 1941 with the Youth Alliyah program, and settled in Kibbutz Merchavia. He is the author of twelve volumes of poetry, including The Fire in the Stone (1957), Selected Poems (1970), And Hasteth to His Place 1953-1989 (1990) and New Selected Poems 1957-2005 (2005) as well as one book in German. His poems have been translated into 15 languages and published in five books in German, including his Selected Poems in Swedish: (Tidens 1977) and German (Piper 1990; Rimbaud, 1995/98). For his poetry he has been awarded many prizes in Israel and Europe, including the Prime Minister Prize and Anna Frank Prize (Israel), David Steinberg Prize (Zürich), Christian Wagner Prize (Warmbronn), Paul Celan Prize (Darmstadt) and Jan Smrek Prize (Bratislava). Rübner has edited numerous literature and philosophy books and published essays on these subjects in Israel and Europe. He has translated from Hebrew into German, including books by S.Y. Agnon, T. Carmi and Dan Pagis. He has also translated extensively from German into Hebrew, including books by Goethe, Schlegel and Kafka among others. He served as General Secretary of the Zionist Organization in Switzerland. Since 1974, he has been professor of Comparative Literature at Tel Aviv University and later at Haifa University. Rübner, currently a Professor Emeritus, is a member of the German Language and Literature Academy, the Kafka Society, the Else Lasker-Schüler Society, and the European Society of Culture.
Tuvia Rübner | Israel
Maybe A Poem Sunrise sets the trees alight. Fine gossamer weils hang between the eye and the scene. Virgin green covers clots of soil free of cement. At the speed of a typhoon we have grown tycoons. Dug a hole for our poor. Mistreated the Arabs. Robbed, cheated, mocked. We harmed and were harmed. Masters of deceit. We defrauded the survivors of the holocaust. Daily casualties, murdered, and not – the media is celebrating. The word ‘peace’ has the taste of mould. Of rotten teeth. What to do with the sane among us with the good hearted, with the welcoming? Life stirs in the sky. Flocks of birds, rapturous throngs, speed and wane, speed and wane. You find something that you have sought in vain for days and days. This is happiness. Destruction strolls on the other side of the street, back and forth. Coin in hand. Yes? No?
Translated from Hebrew by Idan and Jill Ruebner
Ronny Someck was born in Baghdad in 1951 and came to Israel in 1953. He published ten books of poetry, the latest of which is Algeria (2009), and a children’s book, The Laughter Button (with Shirley Someck). His poems were translated into 39 langauges and published in books in English (The Fire Stays in Red), Arabic (Jasmine, And the Poem is a Gangster’s Girl and Lion’s Milk), French (We Were Born in Baghdad and Observation of Beauty), Catalan (On Glass Paper and Pirated Love), Albanian (The Sign of the Bite and The Laughter Button), Italian (The Red Catalogue of the Word Sunset and The Stuttering Child), Macedonian (Wheat), Yiddish (I am a pajama Iraqi), Croatian (Poems), Nepalese (Baghdad, February 1991), Dutch (The Third Kiss Blues) and in periodicals and anthologies. For his poetry Someck was awarded the Prime Minister Prize, the Yehuda Amichai Prize, the Ramat Gan Award, first prize in the wine-poem competition of the Struga International Festival (Macedonia 2005) and the Hans Berghhuis poetry prize in the Maastricht International Poetry Nights (2006). In 1997 he recorded two albums with musician Elliot Sharp - Revenge of the Stuttering Child in New York and Povery Line in Vienna. In 2001, Someck released a third album, A Short History of Vodka. Someck’s artwork was displayed in three exhibitions at The Museum of Israeli Art, Ramat-Gan.
Ronny Someck | Israel
Sonnet of the Flaming Sword’s Birth Chanber Clouds are cotton puffs God dips into the powder of the setting sun, patting the earth all over. The entire story of Genesis is played out on the heavenly dance floor and a plane’s shadow is cast in the corner like a high-heeled shoe someone kicks off while perched on a floating cloud. Around the moon’s neck dangle keys to the room of thunder and lightning, to the room where painted leaves fall from the Tree of Knowledge and to the birth chamber of the flaming sword. How strange under the wing the engine’s whir drowns out wails of a baby born tonight and moans shaking the springs in the bedroom of Adam and Eve.
Translated from Hebrew by Barbara Goldberg with Moshe Dor
Arundhathi Subramaniam, born 1967, is a poet, editor, curator and writer on culture and spirituality. She divides her time between Bombay and a yoga centre in southern India. She did her Masters in English literature at the University of Bombay, and after a brief teaching stint escaped to the life of a freelancer, writing on literature, classical dance and theatre. She is the author of three books of poetry, the most recent of which is Where I Live: New and Selected Poems (Bloodaxe, UK, 2009). She is also the author of the prose work The Book of Buddha (Penguin, 2005) and co-editor of an anthology of Indian love poetry, Confronting Love (Penguin, 2005). Her poetry has been translated into Hindi, Tamil, Italian and Spanish. She was awarded the Charles Wallace fellowship for a writing residency at the University of Stirling, Scotland, in 2003; a Visiting Arts Fellowship for a UK poetry tour, organised by the Poetry Society, in 2006; and the Raza Award for Poetry in 2009. Subramaniam is Editor of the India domain of the Poetry International Web and member of the Executive Committee of the Indian PEN.
Arundhathi Subramaniam | India
Prayer May things stay the way they are in the simplest place you know. May the shuttered windows keep the air as cool as bottled jasmine. May you never forget to listen to the crumpled whisper of sheets that mould themselves to your sleeping form. May the pillows always be silvered with cat-down and the muted percussion of a loverâ€™s breath. May the murmur of the wall clock continue to decree that your providence run ten minutes slow. May nothing be disturbed in the simplest place you know for it is here in the foetal hush that blueprints dissolve and poems begin, and faith spreads like the hum of crickets, faith in a time when maps shall fade, nostalgia cease and the vigil end.
The question is often implied. Probably more so in a country like India where the novel is currently enjoying its place in the sun. Why read poetry? And why on earth write it? Why indeed? It doesn’t improve the GNP or the quality of people’s sex lives. Recent American research claims that poets actually die sooner than other species of writers. Besides, everyone usually stays clear of you: readers and publishers in particular. You rarely see a meaty royalty cheque. And if you crave fame, you have to try not to live past the age of 33. (There’s nothing as vulgar as a live middle-aged poet.)
otherwise live by: day and night, precision and passion, mystery and illumination, work and play, truth and beauty. Poetry is about allowing lunar concerns into my day. About bringing question marks rather than full stops into my life. Because it’s a way of inventing and discovering, composing and revealing, making and disarming all at once. And because it has chemistry: you’ve got to be more acidic – or alkaline – by the end of reading or writing a poem, or it isn’t a poem. Because it reminds me that ideas are crunchy and things smoky. That there are passions of the mind and ideologies of the gut.
Why then? Because it is, I believe, the art of the murmured voice. If it raises its pitch, it distorts its own reality, compromises its own integrity. It is a reminder of the magic of the whisper, the sorcery of the hushed voice. Because it allows me to inhabit a moment more fully than I would otherwise. Because it is the most vertical engagement with self that I know. Because its guile lies in taking me unawares. Someone said it’s like dropping a petal down the Grand Canyon and waiting for an echo. True. And yet, echoes do happen. Not audible, measurable echoes perhaps. But major shifts along internal fault lines, subtle enduring realignments. Because it disrupts all those snug oppositions I 102
Because of its suddenness, its toxic shock clarity, its verbal single maltness. Because words don’t come easy. And when they do, they’re meant to be watched -- not censoriously, with faith but also with caution. That’s because we don’t just use language, we’re used by it. It’s easy to turn words into weapons, armours, territorial markers. But with every parry and thrust, with every act of glibness, with every dogmatic full stop, we move further away from the possibility of surprise. Of discovery. Of the startling confrontation of self with self. Which is what poetry – when it works – is all about. Why poetry? That’s why.
Zvika Szternfeld, born in Poland in 1955, immigrated to Israel in 1957 and now lives in Haifa. He lectures on migration and intercultural issues, moderates therapy groups and works in relationship counselling. Szternfeld published six volumes of poetry, including Peaceful Songs in Chanel 3 – A Reservist’s Diary (1989), which was adapted into a dance performance by the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company; Bach’s Cantorial Prayers (1995); and Pregnant Spiritis (2009), a love story between a Jewish man and an Arab woman that won the ACUM Prize in 2008. Szternfeld, being fluent in ten languages, has translated poetry from English, German, French, Polish and Amharic.
Zvika Szternfeld | Israel
Loyalty What is loyalty, you ask me And I point to the aged barber, To his clients who have since gone bald Not a hair left on their heads Yet who return to him again and again Giving in to his blade. I show you a smile That has sailed away, abandoned, long-gone. It has returned A stranger to the dentures, But a wrinkle at the corner of the lips Embraces it and smiles. Loyalty is the earth that every day Reports under the sun With the hope for something different â€“ For there to be no deserts.
Translated from Hebrew by Daffi Kudish-Weichert
Rafi Weichert, born in Tel Aviv in 1964, published eight volumes of poetry, including Love-note To The World – selected poems 1994-2004 (2004), Slim – word sonnets (Keshev, 2008) and Poems for Dar (Keshev, 2009), dedicated to his daughter. Weichert has translated poetry from English and German, but is best known for his translations from Polish. He published eight volumes of translated poetry, including (among others) selected works by Wislawa Szymborska, Ewa Lipska and Tadeusz Różewicz. His latest translation was Colon, selected works by Szymborska. Weichert recieved the Prime Minister Prize for his poetic work and several prizes for his translations including The Ministry of Culture and Sciences Prize (1994) and the Golden Cross from the president of Poland (2008). He also writes essays and literary criticism for numerous literary magazines and supplements. Weichert is the chief editor of Keshev, a publishing house which specializes in poetry translation, and for this venture was awarded the Ministry of Culture’s Prize for Editing (2007). Weichert taught literature and creative writing in Tel-Aviv and Ben Gurion Universities and currently teaches in the University of Haifa and in Ironi Dalet High School in Tel Aviv.
Rafi Weichert | Israel
The Siren’s Wail The siren’s wail rises up and the whole world freezes, even the flames licking the sky transform themselves into a pillar of heat. Later, when silence drifts back, a stillness beyond hearing, only the siren›s echo remains, like a shadow ascending steep stairs.
Translated from Hebrew by Barbara Goldberg
Haris Vlavianos, born in Rome in 1957, has published six collections of poetry, including The Angel of History (short-listed for the State Poetry Prize, 1999) and most recently After the End of Beauty (short-listed for the same prize and the Diavazo Prize, 2003). He also published a collection of thoughts and aphorisms on poetry and poetics, entitled The Other Place (1994) and the essays book, Minima Poetica (2005). Vlavianos translated into Greek the works of many well-known writers, including Whitman, Pound, Longley, Ashbery, Herbert and Pessoa. His translations of Blake and Cummings were shortlisted for the State Translation Prize in 1997 and 2004, respectively. His poetry was translated into many languages and appeared in numerous European and American journals and anthologies. His book Adieu was published in the UK (Birmingham University Press 1998) and his collected poems were published in German, Italian, Catalan and Dutch. Vlavianos studied economics and philosophy at the University of Bristol (B.Sc) and politics and history (M.Phil, D.Phil) at the University of Oxford. His doctoral thesis, entitled Greece 1941-1949: From Resistance to Civil War, was published by Macmillan (1992). He is a professor of history and the history of ideas at the American College of Greece and teaches translation theory at the European Centre for Translation. Vlavianos is the editor of the Greek domain of the Poetry International web site (www. poetryinternational.org).
Haris Vlavianos | Greece
La madre ĂŠ (finalmente) morta As if she had made a secret pact with death, she died on your birthday. She made sure, albeit belatedly, to give away to you what you kept asking forâ€” a dead mother. Now, free at last, you are ready to receive her final, most precious gift with relief. You can, without remorse, shed on her grave all the tears of your hatred and finally begin to live. Alone. Scarred from this unexpected gesture forever.
Translated from Greek by the author and Mina Karavanta
It surfaces to light the moment it defines itself as a question. This question not identified with the angst or doubts of the poet but constantly pursuing the poet while he was writing (whether he was conscious of this pursuit or not) is now present, lies between the lines in silence patiently waiting for the one who will attempt its solution. The question (finally posited in my absence) makes a gesture towards poetry and is articulated in words that have hitherto been transformed into art by magic. Its self-dedication can be taken to be nauseating narcissism. It still defends its honour by constantly putting it under question. Its history is nothing but the history of this questioning. The question cannot be answered for once posited it is automatically transfigured into a charge against its own means and ends. Its kingdom is founded on its ruins. If it has any power, it derives it from this exact vicious circle of ruins and creation. Every poem that claims a place in its history has to tell it anew, in ways not yet known. If its past has to precondition it, its future should already contain it. Yet, who can claim that he knows the future of poetry? • Every new reading of the world is nothing but the first reading of the poem. • Nowadays the poet feels more redundant than when he was indeed redundant, when, that is, his “uselessness” was socially acknowledged and he thus played a specific role. 110
• Every poem intends another poem. I claim my origin means I name the poems that have brought me to light. • To adopt my poem: to take on the responsibility of its real life, to manage to claim the share of paternity that belongs to me. • The reward of poetry is not rumour or praise but intoxication. For that reason so many untalented poets refuse to live without it. • Poems cannot stride alone; they rely on the kindness of strangers and the testimony of friends. • There are poems with such a full awareness of their force that they cannot stoop down to look at you much less talk to you. • Three are the strong relations of philosophy (as thought) with the poem: philosophy envies the poem (Parmenides); it excludes it (Plato); it classifies it (Aristotle). Heidegger (and, later on, Derrida following his tracks), overcoming this triple constellation, detracts the poem from philosophical thought in order to hand it over to a-letheia (truth). Philosophy is hence forced to be exposed to the poem in the riskiest way: it has to contemplate upon the way the poem “produces” truth for its own ends. (The essential truth activated poetically is the annulment of the accusation of objectivity as the obligatory form
of the ontological presence. For that reason, the question of Presence is poetically crucial, even in the reversed form found for example in Mallarme as subtraction/isolation or in a poet of our times like Ashbery as “absence”.
Translated from the Greek by Mina Karavanta
• Poetic truth never resides in the line-aphorism but in that in-between, in that uncharted, dark territory, where words recoil from taking their final form.
Dorit Weisman, born 1950, is a writer, translator, editor and movie producer. She published seven volumes of poetry - including The Day I Visited the Cuckoo’s Nest (1999), Dancing Csardas With You (2005) and Where Did You Meet the Cancer? (2006), as well as the prose work Positive Result (2010). For her portry she was awarded the Yehuda Amichai Prize, the ACUM Prize, the Zvulun Hamer Prize and the Prime Minister Prize. Weisman translated Until the Fingers Begin to Bleed (2002), an anthology of poems and stories by Charles Bukowski. She made two feature films: Looking for the Peach Orchard (research, directing and cinematography, 2006), a personal travelogue in search for her family’s roots in Hungary, screened in festivals in Israel and abroad; and Neighboors (research and directing, 2007), which features two families in Jerusalem, one of them Jewish and the other Arab. Weisman, a resident of Jerusalem, is an active member of the ‘Ketovet’ poets group and one of the editors of its poetry magazine.
Dorit Weisman | Israel
Mom and Tammy went to Jerusalem Mom and Tammy went to Jerusalem Mom and Tammy went to Jerusalem Mom and Tammy went to Jerusalem to get money from Aunt Miriam
Mom and Tammy went yesterday Mom and Tammy went yesterday Mom and Tammy went yesterday on a bus to Jerusalem and tomorrow they’ll come back Dad went to the movie “Three Loves”
Translated from Hebrew by Lisa Katz
Anat Zecharia, born 1974, is a graduate of the Photography Department in the WIZO Design Academy in Haifa, the fellowship program at the Alma College of Hebrew Culture and the Helicon Poetry School 2004. Her first poetry book was published by Helicon in 2008. Zecharia won the “Poetry on the Road” competitions of the Tel-Aviv Municipal Board in 2005 and 2007, was awarded the Sha’ar Festival Award for Young Poets (2005) and won a mention of honour at the Metula Festival in 2008. She works as a photographer, teaches creative writing and writes Dance reviews for the website NRG of Maariv.
Anat Zecharia | Israel
Happiness Do your bitch’s howl for me That’s what your happiness sounds like When it catches you red-handed With your tongue hanging out Later you will pay Not as punishment, it’s just So.
Translated from Hebrew by Efrat Weiss
Lina Zerón, born in México City 1959, is the author of 11 poetry books, including To Wreck the Whirlwind with a Glance, (Brown Turtle Poetry, Illinois, USA, 2009); Wings of the Wind Music, Love Poems (UNAM, Mexico, 2008); Consecration of the Skin (Athens, Spain, 2007); Cities where I named you (Union, Cuba, 2005); Nostalgy of Life (Union, Cuba, 2005); Sky grows at the bottom of your eyes (The Barbacane, France, 2004, bilingual French-Spanish edition) and Zweierlei Haut (Flor y Piedra, Berlin, 2002, bilingual German-Spanish edition). Her poems have been translated into 16 languages and she has received numerous awards, including Doctor Honoris Causa from the University of Tumbes (Peru, 2007); Honorary professorship in the graduate school of University Alcides Carrión (Peru, 2008); Woman of the Year 2002 in the State of Mexico; Honorary guest of the Claude Couffon translation workshops in Brittany, France (2002) and the Eagle Warrior prize, given by the Circle of Speakers in Mexico (2005). She also published four novels and two collections of short stories. Zerón holds a bachelor’s degree in international relations from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. She is a cultural journalist and the editor-in-chief of the “Linajes Editores” press. Additionally she gives poetry and prose workshops to children of indigenous Oaxacan Mixteca since 2001.
Lina Zerón | Mexico
Wings of Death Metallic croaking, birds spitting fire over arrogant buildings. Terror, rubble, the astonished earth. Death, decay. Juan, or Peter, or Haddad, perished in iron watchtowers like Yumiko, burnt in Hiroshima, or Lu-Yu, from leukemia in Nagasaki, or Yim the Vietnamese while sowing rice, and his father devastated by Ebola. I do not want to be tortured to death, nor swell the ranks of those riddled with bullets, or die like Pedro, and Lupita crossing the Rio Bravo, and much less with my soul wrapped in misery under the veil of fundamentalism. I do not wish to die like the indigenous peoples of Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, or Nicaragua. I do not want one of my children to die in an airplane hijacked by terrorists, nor beneath one either in Afghanistan, Iraq, or Sarajevo, Kosovo, or Puerto Rico, nor in North Korea, or Vietnam. I do not want vengeance to saturate life with death hatred must be expunged from the heart, so must the eye for an eye that will leave the whole world blind.
Translated from Spanish by Maria Vargas
World, Poets and Poetry
When we watch the world through the press, TV, radio or the Internet – this great space of freedom that so suddenly has been offered to us by technology – the word ‘crisis’ floods it all. It involves everything, from a social session to a shopping list. However, we are not living in a crisis; we are living in many crises that have gradually made their way towards us, forming a sinister army. We are talking about political crisis and politicians, the seventh economic crisis for which, as if it was a god, a stranger, or a pagan, we have to sacrifice social spending every month. The crisis of values: it has been more than four decades since we broke with the old values, but, with all this time gone by, we have not been able to create new ones, getting used to living as a shipwreck; each one of us reaching out for the floating log that we believe will not succumb to the stormy waves. Religious crisis and religion in crisis: we have not learnt to respect each other’s or even our own beliefs. Innocent people are still being killed in mass slaughters, women are still covered in burkas, ablations are still performed on African women; People are still being discriminated because of their skin colour; languages are still sought to silence cultures. Arizona sets laws against immigration. I wonder if they consider forbidding the waves to reach beaches. The birds, always wiser, have been migrating for ages, ignoring manmade borders. 118
There is also a crisis between the overfed first world that is sick of commodities and has ended up despising culture, and the Third World where culture does not reach millions that cling to their own traditions as if these traditions were their very lives, and improvise culture everywhere, far from the official grants and popular art centres, creating cultural crafts which are created and consumed in the streets. In this too hard, too tight and too aimless world, where the others have the power and use it violently, where this present has been transformed to a bonfire, we walk naked, with our feet on earth and our soul expanding to the universe. They have their banks, their borders, their infinite regulations and their indifference; we have poetry, which may seem to be too weak a defence, but as Gabriel Celaya said, “poetry is a weapon loaded with future”. If they frighten us with today, let’s return the favour by pointing at them with tomorrow.
Lior Granot was born in 1981 and grew up in Even Yehuda. Her first poetry book, And the Sun Is was published by Helicon in 2010. Granot holds a Bachelor’s degree in behavioural science and a Master’s degree in Hebrew literature. She teaches creative writing and socially-oriented workshops to children and teenagers. She also participated in the writing of a treatise on the first anesthesiologists in Israel. Currently she is studying for a master’s degree in bibliotherapy at the University of Haifa.
How How will I leave you now And before I’ve began you I’ll put you down Folded first lines By your husband, how Your lips that I’ve almost, I’ll pack, Your finger tips Stuttering on my bare hand I’ll devour into a void. How will I put you down Unsolved dream in the abyss between night and day. How will I pass through corridors Walls behind me Your rounding belly facing me, Words of loss circling me. How will I grow-up barefooted On hot tiles of asphalt, How will I grow wings to rise, I’ll marry, not you, without you, How will you not lull me to sleep And I won’t you, how Won’t we undress, how will I be satisfied with you Saying: “you’re beautiful”.
Translated from Hebrew by Eran Tzelgov
Livna Katz is a clinical psychologist, who lives in Haifa. She writes poetry and creates visual art. Her poems were published in poetry magazines and literary websites. She is a graduate of Alma College and of the Helicon Poetry School, 2009. Katz holds a Bachelorâ€™s degree in psychology and creative arts from the University of Haifa, and a Masterâ€™s degree in clinical psychology from Tel Aviv University.
If If only I could soar I would touch the whiteness rim. If I could only soar I could yet reach The land of white velvet. There, white apples are hung in mid air Offering themselves. White cows are grazing, quenching Infinite pasture with their milk. There, the night is descending white, Not concealing a thing On the whiteness of leafage white god is sitting Watering with white smile Meadows of lilies. And a bride in lace is strolling In a garden of leisure And upon the soft, white ground Only my love Is laid entirely Red.
Translated from Hebrew by Tova Aviram
Nariman Karroum was born in 1987 in the village of Rama. Her first book of poems, The Earth’s Whisper is about to be published. A painting created by visual artist Thra’a Abu Yassin on the basis of Karroum’s poem ‘We return, there is no choice’ was displayed at the exhibition of classical art at Zimmar.
A Festival of Slaughtering Bullets they said Ended so far In humiliation And lost in misleading They are preparing A festival of suicide In the bosom of the peace They sold us the bragging And the balls…but all are words And they receive the transgressors In fear Never holding a sword. I’m there… and they are here They took the spike… and the produce They bleed the face of light
Translated from Arabic by Fawzi Shalaby
Dana Lubinsky, born 1979, lives in Tel Aviv. Her poems appeared in several poetry magazines. She has a master’s degree in clinical psychology from Tel Aviv University and is a practicing psychologist. Lubinsky is a graduate of the Helicon Poetry School (2000). Neuronal Tricks At night a great tumult threatens to burst from your nostrils A military coup arises in your dick Neil Armstrong thrusts stars and stripes at the dead center of your Adam’s apple Elena Ceauşescu sorts alligator heels along your thighs Deep in the your ear canals Virginia Woolf sinks to her death And Mahatma Gandhi declares a hunger strike between your toes. But you remain untouched by all that, Dreaming about an empty world, a loo-world Where one can quietly read The Dalai Lama or that yellow book found next to the garbage can: “How to organize your house in ten simple steps” Don’t be shy, sweetie I already know all your neuronal tricks A troop of baboons sits in your hippocampus Shouting : Hoo.hoo.hoo. Neanderthal man clubs your spinal cord repeatedly Electrified eels swim circling round and round In the fluid of your brain. Every so often, but only every so often Water fish and air fish Groan hopes from your throat Most probably, you think “I’m suffocating” But, I’m telling you, the case is otherwise: A pair of aged elephants are placing bets in your rectum: Who’ll be the first to draw his last breath. Apart from that, my love, I’ve found no fault in you. Translated from Hebrew by the author
Ora Nizard was born in Tel Aviv in 1949. She studies educational counselling and Jewish history and holds a Master’s degree in education management. She also studied for a master’s degree in Hebrew literature in Tel Aviv University. Nizard is a graduate of the Helicon Poetry School (2009). Her first volume of poetry, Games at the Inner Courtyard, was published by Helicon in 2010. In the same year she participated in an Israeli-Palestinian art exhibition in Tel Aviv University. Nizard has been devoted many years to the field of education, working as a kindergarten teacher, as schoolteacher and as a teacher of autistic and psychotic children in a mental hospital. She has taught voluntarily within various disadvantaged groups.
Forgive me Forgive me, Motti, for intruding. You were two years younger than me, a ten-year-old fledgling that died of cancer. At school they said you were throwing up blood by morning you weren’t there any more. Afterwards they never mentioned you. Where did you go? It’s been sitting in my guts like a stone for forty years. Forgive me for intruding. Did I really say nothing at the time? Not even to my younger brother who went to the same class. For forty years I’ve been wandering through the desert, throwing up that stone and begging to be forgiven.
Translated from Hebrew by Ronen Altman Kaydar
Daniel Oz was born in 1978 and grew up in Kibbutz Hulda and in Arad. His first poetry book The Earthly Life, was published in 2010. Oz lead the instrumental Jazz quintet ‘The Keys to the Submarine’, and was the ensemble’s main composer. The group’s first album, “Seriously Now”, was released in 2007, and its theme track won the Young Artist Promotion Award at the White Night International Competition. In addition, Oz collaborated musically with many Hebrew poets. He graduated with honors from Ben Gurion University, majoring in philosophy, and currently studying for a master’s degree at Tel Aviv University.
My Lousy Daughter My lousy daughter My severed tail by whose fault I am a father I stand at each window of a photo album unable to find a door as she tosses to and fro on a question that is wide open and my predators stoop over her But one must savor the screeches of brakes that were to be the only silence, the pulse that slowed under the pressure of the finger laid upon it and the sweetness of calm waters in their diligent and almost absentminded consumption
Translated from Hebrew by the author
Isaac Shachar, born 1973, resides in Kibutz Matzuva. His poems were published in various periodicals and in the anthology Orange Circles (Pardes). Shahar is a graduate of the Helicon Poetry School (2010).
Introduction to Music Do you hear the rising and falling siren? It is a kind of legato; and the shots fired from the villages that is staccato. Listen to the missiles shelter getting crowded with frightenedÂ voices: this is an example for crescendo. This is enough for today. Tomorrow weâ€™ll be ready to learn about the requiem.
Tranlsated from Hebrew by the author
Shira Stav, born 1971, lectures on Hebrew literature in Ben Gurion University and is a literary critic in the ‘Books’ supplement of Ha’aretz. For her literary work she was awarded the Teva Poetry Prize of the Metula Festival (2007) and the Bernstein Prize for Literary Criticism (2009). This year Stav edited the collected prose works of late Israeli poet Tirtza Atar, Suddenly all the lights went off. Stav is a graduate of the Helicon Poetry School (2001). Slow Tongue On his deathbed my grandfather said to me You, you need to have the words ripped out of your mouth Like nails from a wall. For the first time he looked at me with interest And the affection reserved for pleasant strangers Who happened into his life. Tell me, he begged, You’ve seen the world. I haven’t seen it, Grandpa, except Through the nail holes I left in the wall of the house Until my parents filled them With big forgetting And many habits And all the words I ripped out Are hereby scattered before you On the hospital blanket. All that, I wanted to tell him But the bed receded, The words stuck in my mouth And they pierced my tongue. Translated from Hebrew by Vivian Eden.
Programme THURSDAY | OCT. 21 19.30 GENERAL RECEPTION AND OPENING EVENTS (at the Arabic-Hebrew Theatre) 20.00 FIRST SESSION – THE OPENING: Greetings: Chairperson of Helicon Society, Dr. Liora Barash Morgenstern, Artistic Director Amir Or Music: the Felicia band in Balkan, Hassidic, Mediterranean and original pieces. Suzaphone Udi Raz,trumpet - Idan Raveh, sop. saxophone - Yakov Gorenstein, alto saxophone - Michael Ben shimon, daol drum - Tia levy, percussion - Oded Aloni Video: “Ten Minutes On The Ten Commandments” by Alon gerzon and Shalom Schwartz World Tour Poetry reading: 1 - Elaine Feinstein, Casimiro De Brito, Ban’ya Natsuishi, Ana Blandiana, Haris Vlavianos, Doris Kareva, Ana Ristović , José María Alvárez; 2 - Dennis Nurkse, Arundhathi Subramaniam, Lina Zerón, Marc Delouze, Ivan Hristov, Gökçenur Ç, Shira Stav, Rita Odeh, Moderator: Shir Freibach 21.30 EVERYDAY BETWEEN SESSIONS – “THE 11TH COMMANDMENT”: festival guests are invited to suggest an eleventh commandment in a poem or a phrase. 22.00
SECOND SESSION - THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY Poetry Reading: Ban’ya Natsuishi, Rita Odeh Music and Poetry: composer and singer Alon Oleartchik hosts poets of the Helicon Editorial Board and friends: Yael Globerman, Amir Or, Ronny Someck, Rafi Weichert, Agi Mishol, Gilad Meiri
FRIDAY | OCT. 30 14.00
FIRST SESSION – NEW VOICES and WORD EXPRESS (at the Tel Aviv Cinemateque) Poetry reading: Lior Granot, Isaac Shachar, Shira Stav, Daniel Oz, Yonatan Barg, Nariman Karroum, Netalie Brown, Boaz Yaniv, Ora Nizard, Ya’ara Shehori, David Mor, Livna Katz Poetry Performance of Word Express poets: Gökçenur Ç, Ivan Hristov, Dana Lubinsky, Ali Nassuh Mawassi, Ana Ristović amd Anat Zecharia, guided by Shir Freibach. Video Art: 1. “A Small Country with 2 Big Moustaches” by Hannan Abu Hussein 2. Igra Rama” by Avi Dabach after a poem by Tal Nitzan Filmed skit: “Challenged - The Bush Is Burning For Them”, a sketch by Gome Sarig and Yoni Ittiel. Actors: Shula Chen, Gome Sarig and Yoni Ittiel. Directors: Yoni Geva and Doron Aharonson Movie: “The Decalogue” (the 6th commandment: adultery) by Krzysztof Kieślowski Moderator: Shir Freibach
20.00 RECEPTION AND OPENING EVENTS (at the Arabic-Hebrew Theatre) 20.30 SECOND SESSION - “SEX, LIES AND GOD” Poetry Reading: Amos Oz, Casimiro De Brito, Tzvia Litevsky, Avi Elias, Dorit Weisman, Ortsion Bartana, Arundhathi Subramaniam Music: composer and singer Shem-Tov Levi Dance: “Transparents” by Rona Ginat. Text: The Chairs by Eugene Ionesco. Performers: Neomi Shaish, Sivan Shvartz and Tomer Tzirkilevich, students of the Kibbutzim College of Education Technology and the Arts, School for the Arts of Dance. Music: composer and singer Jasmin Even Moderator: Shir Freibach BETWEEN SESSIONS: THE 11TH COMMANDMENT and POETRY HYDE PARK 22.30 THIRD SESSION – “THE GOLDEN CALF OF POETRY” Poetry Reading: Tuvia Rübner, Doris Kareva, Elaine Feinstein, Schachar-Mario Mordechay, Riki Daskal, Zvika Szternfeld, Marc Delouze Music: composer and singer Ronit Rolland Dance: “Like Father Likes Son” by Tomer Tzirkilevich. Performers: Yiftach Mizrahi, Omer Shemer and Tomer Tzirkilevich - students of the Kibbutzim College of Education Technology and the Arts, School for the Arts of Dance. 129 Moderator: Shir Freibach
SATURDAY | OCT. 31 20.00 FIRST SESSION – “CARVED IN THE ROCK” (at the Arabic-Hebrew Theatre) Poetry Reading: Dennis Nurkse, Lina Zerón, Sharron Hass, Varda Genossar, Oded Peled, Anwar Saba, Zohar Eitan Music: composer and singer Yasmin Even Dance: A duet from “Quiet” - in light of the growing violence and mistrust between communities in Israel. Choreography and Direction: Arkadi Zaides, Artistic Collaborator: Joanna Lesnierowska, Performers: Muhammed Mugrabi, Ofir Yudilevitch Moderator: Shir Freibach BETWEEN SESSIONS: THE 11TH COMMANDMENT and POETRY HYDE PARK with graduates of the Helicon Poetry School 22.00 CLOSING SESSION – “COMMANDMENTS OF POETRY” Poetry Reading: Ana Blandiana, José María Alvárez, Israel Eliraz, Ruth Blumert, Haris Vlavianos, Hamutal Bar-Yosef, Salman Masalha, Lea Pilovsky, Miron C. Izakson Music: composer and singer Ayelet Rose Gottlieb
HELICON POETRY SOCIETY And what should we do with horses in the twentieth century? And with gazelles And with the big stones In the mountains of Jerusalem? (Israeli poet Leah Goldberg, in answer to the question who needs lyrical poems) Throughout the ages, poetry has been providing human society with the sense of existential meaning beyond the dry facts, and the ability to touch the essence of our life. Recently, poetry is again becoming a central component of every nation’s and every people’s cultural identity: a textual essence of common memory, imagination, dreams and values that create a culture and make it unique. In our country, split culturally, socially and politically, poetry has an additional major role. With its power of elevation, poetry is able to bridge between distant worlds and to reduce the distance between rivals; thus it contributes to the realization of the peace for which our region strives.
OUR MISSION STATEMENT The Vision of Helicon is to return to Israeli Society and to put at its disposal the spiritual potential of poetry and its values. • To be the fore-runner of nurturing poetic culture in Israel. • To bring new audiences to poetry and poetry to new audiences. • To supply a permanent and appropriate platform for poets and their poetry. • To foster poetry’s future generation. • To integrate poetry within the local educational and cultural frameworks. • To bring people closer through poetry.
WHAT WE DO Helicon is a poetry journal, a poetry press, a Hebrew-Arabic poetry school and a training centre for young poets, a producer of poetry performances and festivals, an initiator of interactive ventures between poetry and the other arts, a promoter of communication and sharing among poets writing in the various languages of Israel – Hebrew, Arabic, English, Russian and more – and an importer of poetry from the world into Israel and an exporter of Israeli poetry to the world. In short, Helicon is an independent locus and catalyst for poetry. Helicon Society was founded in 1990 by poet Amir Or and Irit Sela. Its chairperson is Dr. Liora Barash-Morgenstern.
The 20th year
Sha'ar International Poetry Festival 10th Anniversary The 20th year T H E 1 0 C O M M A N D M E N T S - S H A’ A R 2 0 1 0
José María Alvárez | Ortsion Bartana | Hamutal BarYosef | Ana Blandiana | Ruth Blumert | Casimiro De Brito | Gökçenur Çelebioğlu | Riki Daskal | Marc Delouze | Zohar Eitan | Avi Elias | Israel Eliraz | Elaine Feinstein | Yael Globerman | Sivan Har-Sheﬁ | Sharron Hass | Ivan Hristov | Miron C. Izakson | Doris Kareva | John Kinsella | Tzvia Litevsky | Salman Masalha | Gilad Meiri | Agi Mishol | Schachar-Mario Mordechay | Banʼya Natsuishi | Dennis Nurkse | Rita Odeh | Amir Or | Amos Oz | Oded Peled | Lea Pilovsky | Ana Ristović | Tuvia Rübner | Ronny Someck | Arundhathi Subramaniam | Zvika Szternfeld | Raﬁ Weichert | Haris Vlavianos | Dorit Weisman | Anat Zecharia | Lina Zerón | Lior Granot | Livna katz | Nariman Karroum | Dana Lubinsky | Ora Nizard | Daniel Oz | Isaac Shachar | Shira Stav
The Commandments S H A’ A R 2 0 1 0 The 10th International Poetry Festival
משרד התרבות והספורט משרד החוץ
Poets and Poems