The poetry of Adi Assis injects us with the distress that consumes his days and nights. His laments madden us as we find ourselves rare witness to circumstances usually hidden from view, and even more profoundly, to the hidden reaches of the poet’s heart.
Israel in Translation
Today we read poetry by Haya Esther, a woman born into an ultra orthodox household in Jerusalem, and who was fired from her job in a girl’s Haredi school after her first book of poems was published in 1983. She went on to write 18 volumes of poetry.
In her second book, Ayat Abou Shmeiss’s subjects include an examination of her life as a mother and as a student at the Open University, where she is finishing a degree in political science. The poet has a clear grasp of her position. “I’m this and that” she said.
Arab Israeli women are one of the most underrepresented groups of writers in Israel and the world. It’s very difficult to find such work that’s been translated into English. And so today, we spotlight the poetry of three such women.
The fast of Ramadan ends soon. In Israel, lights are strung up all over the cities of Jerusalem, Haifa, Akko, Jaffa, and many smaller towns and villages. It is a season of heightened charity and prayer. To celebrate the upcoming holiday, we read from the poetry of Sumaiya El-Sousy.
The story is set during the time of the 14th century great plague in Jerusalem, which killed a quarter of the city’s population. In this story, the monks who lived on the mountain, at a distance of an hour and a half outside of the city, would take turns, by drawing lots, to go into the city to help.
Appelfeld’s novel is told in two parts. Part one chronicles the dissolution of an assimilated Austrian family and the anti-semitism leading up to the war. Part two picks up “many years later, when everything was over,” and where the narrator has somehow escaped to Palestine.
In 1948 the poet Haim Gouri fought as a deputy company commander in the Palmach Negev Brigade and wrote a poem commemorating the fighters who accompanied the convoys and fell at Bab el Wad. We read from it and hear it sung on today’s episode.