Many consider Yehuda Halevi the poet laureate of the Jewish people. A poet, physician, and philosopher of the 11th century, Halevi’s work has become an integral part of the modern Jewish liturgy. His words are even echoed in Naomi Shemer’s famous song “Jerusalem of Gold.”
To celebrate National Poetry Month, every day for the rest of April we will be presenting a Halevi poem a day—or an excerpt of one—in their beautiful modern translations by Hillel Halkin, whose biography of Halevi was published by Nextbook Press earlier this year. For today, here is a pocket-sized version of two of Halevi’s most famous poems, “My Heart in the East” and “On Boarding Ship in Alexandria,” for you to print, fold, and share.
We’re hoping that not only will you love these poems, but that they’ll also inspire your own reimaginings of Halevi’s work. To that end, a contest: compose a song using Halevi’s lyrics, or create an illustration or video inspired by his writing; anything that applies your own creativity to interpret one of these poems. We’ll select the best entries and post them to Nextbook Press and Tablet; one winner will be chosen to win an Apple iPad! Publish your entry on your blog or website and send us a link, or share it in the comments section below. Deadline is April 26, and we’ll announce the winner on Poetry in Your Pocket Day, April 29.