Poetry From Israel, Lodz, India, and Beyond
Celebrate National Poetry Month with Tablet’s stories about poets and poems
“April is the cruellest month, breeding,” sang T.S. Eliot. “Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote,” launched Chaucer. Sayeth Tablet, “Yea, April is National Poetry Month.” Our archives are proudly brimming with material about poetry and poets: interviews with Poet Laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners, literary criticism of new work, appreciations, commemorations, obituaries, celebrations, readings, profiles, and new original verse.
Each week this month we’ll be bringing you highlights from Tablet’s archive. Please join us in helping the American Academy of Poets carry the flame.
Frederick Seidel, by Adam Kirsch: The latest collection from the great Jewish poet Frederick Seidel expresses intimate revulsion at human feats.
I don’t want to remember the Holocaust.
I’m thick of remembering the Holocaust.
To the best of my ability, I wasn’t there anyway.
And then I woke.
Nissim Ezekiel, by Patricia Bailey Conway: Nissim Ezekiel, born in Bombay and schooled in London, wrote in English from India about familiar but foreign cultures.
I have made my commitments now.
This is one: to stay where I am,
As others choose to give themselves
In some remote and backward place.
My backward place is where I am.
Habib Gerez, by Jasmine Dilmanian: The charming, 85-year-old Istanbul poet and painter Habib Gerez buries his Turkish-Jewish heritage in a country where Jewish artists are not accepted.
New Israeli Poetry, by Lisa Katz: No longer the province of an artistic elite, poetry in Israel today is being produced by hundreds of poets of all stripes
Officially You may refuse. I know. I’m
approaching You in English this once.
But, please, be kind,
be attentive to the heart.
Even if it’s pointless,
tasteless. Please accept an offering
from me this time.
Chava Rosenfarb, by Goldie Morgenthaler: New translations of three astonishing poems, which evoke the horror of the Lodz ghetto and its aftermath.
I would sew a dress for you, my child,
out of tulle made of spring’s joyful green,
and gladly crown your head with a diadem
made of the sunniest smiles ever seen.
Yitzhak Laor, by Joshua Cohen: In new translations of his poems about soldiers, disappearance, and life cycles, Israeli poet Yitzhak Laor uses biblical allusions, humor, and rage to explore the absurdities of modern Israeli life.
Don’t die, soldier, hold the radiophone,
don your helmet, your flak jacket, surround
the village with a trench of crocodiles, starve
it out if need be, eat Mama’s treats, shoot
sharp, keep your rifle clean, take care of the armored
Jeep, the bulldozer, the land, one day it will be
yours, little David, sweetling, don’t die, please.
Mark Strand, by Bridget Kevane: A conversation with Mark Strand, the former poet laureate and a Pulitzer Prize winner.
In a field
I am the absence
always the case.
Wherever I am
I am what is missing.
Plus, your weekly dose of Scroll Verse: CREED: A Still Life, by Susan Comninos
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The Israeli foreign minister met with fellow Soviet Jewish émigrés last night