Sunday, 25 September 2016
Tuesday, 20 September 2016
Israelis love their writers so much that many are lauded as latter-day seers and saints.
So it is with Rachel Bluwstein whose 126th birthday is celebrated today by Google Israel. Indeed, so revered and renowned does she remain even 85 years after her death, that she is still referred to simply as ‘Rachel The Poetess’.
Earlier this summer during a visit to Tiberias, I attempted to make a pilgrimage to her gravesite at the old cemetery, overlooking Lake Kinneret. But despite spending more than hour there wandering among the many fading headstones and poorly tended plots, I was unable to find it. I would appreciate a word from anyone who can point me in the right direction for a future occasion.
I conclude here with Perhaps, taken from the Anthology of Modem Hebrew Poetry, translated from the Hebrew by A.C. Jacobs.
Perhaps it was never so.
I never woke early and went to the fields
To labour in the sweat of my brow
Nor in the long blazing days
On top of the wagon laden with sheaves,
Made my voice ring with song
Nor bathed myself clean in the calm
Of my Kinneret. O, my Kinneret,
Were you there or did I only dream?
© Natalie Wood (20 September 2016)
Friday, 16 September 2016
I mention him now because Words Without Borders, which promotes cultural understanding through the translation and publication of contemporary international writing, features his work in its current newsletter.
I am intrigued by this piece, translated by Asya Vaisman Schulman, as on a first reading, I mistakenly assumed it to be a sly satire of Ladino - Judeo-Spanish and Sephardi Jewry’s linguistic counterpart to Ashkenazi Yiddish.
However, research tells me that Glatshteyn designed it as a ‘dadaist hymn to Yiddish’ and used it in a public reading in November 1966, during which he asked his audience not to applaud between each poem so they may “have the opportunity without distraction to immerse themselves fully in the sound, rhythm and texture of the poetry.”
Sing Ladino, you blond songer,
Finegolden radiating, bursting—
All the breads, all the deaths,
All the taigas, all the tundras,
All the wonders multicolored,
All the wicks, all the skins,
Yellowred and Falashino,
Ours, our universladino,
You, blond Alladino, sing.
From the deeps and the stilldeepers,
Slavic, Luvavich, Turkavic,
Greekish and Teutonic,
Carpathian and Asatic –
Our tragic multihyping,
Our bulkheap, our buzzing,
Our Latvic, our
You blond songer,
© Natalie Wood (13 September 2016)
Tuesday, 13 September 2016
Even so, the title of this latest book is Disinheritance **.
But unlike other readers who have offered it unstinting praise, I find the volume deeply disquieting. At a time when many fathers would write joyously of the new lives they have helped to create, Sibley devotes himself to death and mourning.
Further, as one poem in the collection is titled A Dead Boy Speaks to His Parents, it is followed by another, Things Start at Their Names. The latter refers to ‘Gabriel’ – also the name of his new-born son and means “God is my strength”. Enough said!
Williams also writes fiction, is a free-lance literary agent, publicist and presently the marketing director of Inkwater Press, a self-publishing company. So I was surprised to note printing errors in the final poem, Denouement.
Can I say that a child died inside us
when all we have conceived is a name
for what could be?
We’ve built a cradle of nails and wood
to house a body too busy dying
to rest, a trophy of grief
we polish in case of tomorrow.
Yet still he cannot see through
the eyes I tried to give him.
My mother has woven a shroud
to warm the son, blue for the sky
and gold for its promise, black
around the edges to resemble
the distances between them.
Our friends have their mantra
the world will wait for you
and we have our reply
spelled out in silence.
** Disinheritance is published by Apprentice House @ $6.99 (Kindle) and $11.99 (Paperback).
© Natalie Wood (13 September 2016)
Sunday, 11 September 2016
Donte Collins scooped the prize for a poem dashed off in only 15 minutes and which was triggered by yet another shooting of a fellow black man by a white police officer.
Collins is a young man who may well be suffused by an uncomprehending, unrelenting rage.
After all, he could demand, as he was born in Chicago why were he and a brother summarily despatched to be adopted by a total stranger in Minneapolis-St Paul, Minnesota when he was aged only two? Didn’t they have a say in the arrangement? Why weren’t they allowed to be raised and loved by their natural mother – like other kids?
“My childhood was filled with both beauty and struggle … I was so angry. I didn’t understand what adoption meant. I had so much grief,” he says. It was only later that he began to understand that he could best express himself by using words instead of fists.
Below I repost Donte’s poem, what the dead know by heart along with Perspective by Amy King, who was co-winner of the 2015 Tarpaulin Sky Book Prize.
what the dead know by heart
by Donte Collins
lately, when asked how are you, i
respond with a name no longer living
Rekia, Jamar, Sandra
i am alive by luck at this point. i wonder
often: if the gun that will unmake me
is yet made, what white birth
will bury me, how many bullets, like a
flock of blue jays, will come carry my black
to its final bed, which photo will be used
to water down my blood. today i did
not die and there is no god or law to
thank. the bullet missed my head
and landed in another. today, i passed
a mirror and did not see a body, instead
a suggestion, a debate, a blank
post-it note there looking back. i
haven’t enough room to both rage and
weep. i go to cry and each tear turns
to steam. I say I matter and a ghost
white hand appears over my mouth.
by Amy King
When I see the two cops laughing
after one of them gets shot
because this is TV and one says
while putting pressure on the wound,
Haha, you're going to be fine,
and the other says, I know, haha!,
as the ambulance arrives—
I know the men are white.
I think of a clip from the hours
of amateur footage I've seen
when another man at an intersection
gets shot, falls, and bleeds from a hole
the viewer knows exists only by the way
the dark red pools by the standing cop's feet,
gun now holstered, who
yells the audience back to the sidewalk.
I know which one is dying
while black and which one stands by white.
I think this morning about the student
in my class who wrote a free write line
on the video I played
that showed a man pouring water
on his own chest, "...the homoerotic
scene against a white sky" with no other men
present. Who gets to see and who follows
what script? I ask my students.
Whose lines are these and by what hand
are they written?
© Natalie Wood (11 September 2016)