David Avidan worked as a self-described “poet, painter, filmmaker, publicist, and playwright.” He was often attacked by poetry critics who criticized him as being egocentric, chauvinistic, and technocratic. In an interview, Avidan proclaimed: “My arena is the entire planet. Israel is but a small piece of land. I don’t work in Tel Aviv. I work from Tel Aviv.”
Israel in Translation
“He challenges the cultural gatekeepers to look beyond the traditional topics, tropes and metaphors toward a different, more inclusive version of Hebrew poetry that reflects the lived experience of those that have been traditionally left outside of the canon.” That’s the poetry of Roy Hasan.
Natan Zach has had a great influence on the development of modern Hebrew poetry. He favors a ‘poetics of modesty’, simple poetics without undue simplification. Zach has been called “the most articulate and insistent spokesman of the modernist movement in Hebrew poetry.”
Named by Haaretz as the most influential of contemporary poets, Adi Keissar is an Israeli poet of Yemenite descent, and is the founder of the popular Ars Poetica project. Today we feature some of Keissar’s poetry.
Today we focus on the work of a particular translator—Peter Cole. Marcela reads a selection from Cole’s anthology, “Hymns and Qualms, New and Selected Poems and Translations.”
Asenath Barzani was the first known woman rabbi in Jewish history. The only child of an eminent rabbi in Kurdistan, she was trained to be a learned scholar. After her father’s death, she became the head teacher at the Yeshiva. Asenath was famous for her Hebrew poetry.
On the shores of Israel’s Sea of Galilee lies the city of Tiberias, and in Shemi Zarhin’s novel Some Day, it is a place bursting with sexuality and longing for love. Zarhin’s hypnotic writing renders a painfully delicious vision of individual lives behind Israel’s larger national story.
“We never chose to be involved in a war. The decision-makers never think of us as real people, with minds to think and hearts to feel. We have lives ahead of us. No one seems to notice.” Today, we share the work of one poet in Gaza whose work opens a tiny window to what’s happening on the other side.
“Petty Business” is a tale of two families, related by marriage, who are shop owners in 1980s Israel. Rarely are middle-aged, petit bourgeois families the protagonists of Israeli literature, but Yirmi Pinkus, who is also a graphic artist known for his humor, delivers a strangely compelling story.
Today we feature poetry by Sheikha Helawy, a Bedouin woman born in the unmarked Bedouin village of El-Roi, on the outskirts of the city of Haifa, and who today lives in Jaffa. Her poems were originally written in Arabic and in Hebrew.