Monday, 27 July 2015

His God Was Sun!

Another Seascape with Storm Coming On

‘The sun is God’ – JMW Turner




January and deepest winter.

Turner’s in the sky at Acco. 


Four o’clock.

An evil hour and the sun

a bruised, ill-tempered god

disrobes deep in one sunken cheek

of the black-faced sky.


The waters rise:

Wave upon desperate wave,

each thirsting for some scrap

of inland warmth, soars, lunges,

claws in vain at ancient harbour walls

grand enough to sneer, implacable,

teasing the tossing torrent into ebb.

Hip first.



A trifling dusk.

All’s swept away save one

lone angler who braced with

rod, line and lantern, scarcely leans,

takes an expert pause, hooking

an unwary, silvered slip for tea.


It’s over.

A wild and wretched day now trapped

in night, queues to be reeled into eternity.

© Natalie Wood (27 July 2015)

Saturday, 25 July 2015

From Pakistan to Israel – in Peace

Farhan.Wilayat.ButtPolitical relations between Israel and Pakistan remain troubled, highly complex and as I write, a sole self-declared Jew,  Fishel Benkhald remains in Karachi.

So I am delighted to report that some Israel-Pakistan cultural friendships have developed and among them is that between peace activists like Haifa-based Ada Aharoni of the International Forum for the Literature and Culture of Peace and Farhan Wilayat Butt who lives in Lahore.

Butt, a banker by profession, is also a writer, researcher, traveller and photographer, who contributes to Pakistani and Indian magazines in both Urdu and English.

He says: Two years ago, I established a small peace group called the ‘Pakistan Peacekeeping Mission’. This was to maximise efforts for interfaith peace and harmony in Pakistan. Now, we have more than 10,700 members who work with us.

“Through the Pakistan Peacekeeping Mission, we conduct interfaith discussions and peace tours to various sacred places associated with different religions. We are careful to uphold the rights of religious minorities and in May this year I received a prize from the celebrated Pakistani intellectual Dr Ajmal Niazi during the National Minorities Award Show which is organized by the Sada.e.Aqliat Foundation.

Butt explains: “I wrote my poem, I Am Afraid of Studying, in Urdu about a school boy who is afraid to attend classes because of terrorist attacks. He is also deeply emotional about his mother. We need a peaceful environment for our children around the globe and certainly, we want to give them a terror-free world in which to live. I share my thoughts both in Urdu and in English translation, so they may be easily understood.


پڑھنے لکھنے سے بھی ڈر لگتا ہے
سکول جانے سے بھی ڈر لگتا ہے
ماں مجھ کو چھپا لے آنچل میں
باہر جانے سے بھی ڈر لگتا ہے
چاہتا ہوں میں بن جائوں افسر
کما کے لائوں حالات کر دوں بہتر
مگر سنو ماں، یہ دل کا خوف میرا
کیسے جائوں مجھے ڈر لگتا ہے
چلا گیا میں جو چھوڑ کر تم کو
ملے گا دکھ، درد، غم تم کو
جیو گی کیسے میرے بغیر امی
کرو گی کیا، مجھے ڈر لگتا ہے


I Am Afraid of Studying

“I am afraid of studying now,

I am afraid of attending my school.

Mom, hide me somewhere,

I am afraid of leaving home.

I want to become an officer,

I want to earn one day to change our financial position.

But Mom, please hear the fears inside my heart,

How can I leave home, I am scared so much!


“Maybe I will die one day in terrorist attacks,

And it will be really sad and painful for you.

Mom, how will you survive without me?

What will you do?

I am really, really scared ...”

© Natalie Wood (25 July 2015)

Another Prize for a Poet of Peace


Israeli poet and writer, Ada Aharoni has been awarded the Haifa Citizen Award for her outstanding contribution to world peace and culture.

Professor Aharoni,  a founding member of the Voices Israel poetry society and founding president of IFLAC - The International Forum for the Literature and Culture of Peace - received the accolade from  Yona Yahav, the Mayor of Haifa at a ceremony before a 1000-plus crowd at the Haifa Auditorium.

© Natalie Wood (25 July 2015)

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Reuben Rose Poetry Competition 2015

Reuben.RoseThe 26th annual Reuben Rose Poetry Competition of Voices Israel is open for entries, now until 15 September 2015.

Reuben Rose was among the four founder members of Voices Israel in August 1971 along with Leslie Summers, Moshe Ben-Zvi and Jacob Katwan.

Voices.Israel.LogoWinners of cash prizes and honourable mentions will be published in the 2016 issue of Voices Israel. Poems may treat any topic but must be original, unpublished, and no  longer than 40 lines.

Full guidelines and submission fees from:

© Natalie Wood (21 July 2015)

Sunday, 19 July 2015

When Fantasy Meets Reality

Here’s something original!

An animated poem describing how a child’s imagination helps him to cope with reality.

The words of  Bensonhurst 1940’s are by American-Israeli Eli Ben-Joseph, a member of Voices Israel while the animation has been created by his daughter, Sarit. The clip will be screened on Wednesday 5 August at the Cinematech in Tel Aviv.

Ben-Joseph, a multi-linguist and translator, is retired from the Western Galilee College where he was a senior teacher of English and Conservation Studies.

© Natalie Wood (20 July 2015)

Friday, 3 July 2015

All Their Sons

Julie.BurchillToday I start with a cliché. Big people make huge mistakes and there’s no-one writ larger in British journalism than the gutsy, feisty, candid Julie Burchill who loves with a great love and loathes with a huge hatred.

Now she’s telling anyone who’ll listen that Jack, her son by her second husband, Cosmo Landesman, also a writer, has committed suicide aged 29.

I am not a mother but understand both from my extended family and those around me here in Israel that there is no emotional anguish more brutal than that of burying a child. Some Israeli parents have seen several children killed in action or as a result of terrorism.

So I hope that as an unswervingly loyal friend of the Jewish community and Israel, Burchill will ponder these things and allow that her pain is being shared with her ex-husband; that indeed her suffering is universal. Meanwhile, as she tries to come to terms with what has happened, Burchill has posted several poems dealing with the loss of children, including the one which follows.

Pavel Grigorievich AntokolskySon was written by the Russian Jewish poet Pavel Antokolsky, a year after the death of his 18 year old son Lieutenant Vladimir Antokolovsky, who was killed in action during World War II on 06 June 1942. Antokolsky, a poet, translator and theatre director was a nephew of the sculptor, Mark  Antokolsky.




“Do not call me, father, do not seek me,
Do not call me, do not wish me back.

“We’re on a route uncharted, fire and blood erase our tracks.
On we fly, on wings of thunder, never more to sheath our swords.
All of us in battle fallen, not to be brought back by words.

“Will there be a rendezvous? I know not.
I only know we still must fight.
We are sand grains in infinity, never to meet, never more see light.

“Farewell then my son. Farewell then my conscience.
My youth and my solace my one and my only.

“And let this farewell be the end of a story,
Of solitude vast and which none is more lonely.
In which you remain, barred forever and ever,
From light and from air,with your death pangs untold.
Untold and unsoothed, not to be resurrected.
Forever and ever, an 18 year old.

“Farewell then, no trains ever come from those regions
Unscheduled or scheduled,no aeroplanes fly there.
Farewell then my son, for no miracles happen,
As in this world dreams do not come true”.


“I will dream of you still as a baby,
Treading the earth with little strong toes,
The earth where already so many lie buried.
This song to my son,is come to its close”.

© Natalie Wood (03 July 2015)