Monthly Archives: January 2012

Merħba to Poets of Babel

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Poets of Babel

Poets of Babel (© Shoshana Sarah 2012)

I believe in messages from the universe. At least over a year ago, I decided that I wanted to start a poetry club. Then, I did nothing…until today.

Last Thursday, I met with two of the most awesome people I know, Marc, a former break dancer/polyglot MC turned design engineer and Nadine, a jeweler who is petite in stature but huge in spirit. After talking the night away at La Champa, on the subject of poetry versus hip hop, and discovering for the first time that Nadine writes also, (“I love you even more!” I exclaimed) she said, “We should start a poetry club.”

“I’ve been wanting to start a poetry club for ages,” I replied.

In the shower, the next day, while shampooing my hair, I received it:

Poets of Babel. ‘A place where poets would not be limited in participation based on their mother tongue or the language they chose to write poetry in.’ 99% of the people I know are at least bilingual and I would want anyone who’s a poet there. ‘If you’ve got a friend who understands what you wrote, bring him,’ I thought. Then, while rinsing, the perfect tag line came to compliment the name of the club: “Poets of Babel: If you are a poet, we speak the same language.”

Perfect.

Meanwhile, in the world of Facebook, I’d been tagged in a book review. The poor author’s novel had been torn to shreds by the critic, but one line stood out:

“Every single character talks in exactly the same idiotically macaronic way, and 500 pages into it, you are still trying to remember which humourless pundit is which.”

This is because, as I’m not too proud to admit, I did not know what macaronic meant. And, yes, it does come from the same root as macaroni.

I share with you my new found knowledge:

mac.a.ron.ic

Definition of MACARONIC

1

: characterized by a mixture of vernacular words with Latin words or with non-Latin words having Latin endings

2

: characterized by a mixture of two languages

— macaronic noun

Origin of MACARONIC

New Latin macaronicus, from Italian dialect maccarone macaroni

First Known Use: 1638

(http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/macaronic)

Macaronic is the written form of another term I was familiar with: code-switching. I, and most people I know in Israel, engage in code-switching, the practice of moving back and forth between two languages or between two dialects or registers of the same language.

It was while reading everything I could online about macaronic usage that I discovered my new hero: Antoine Cassar, a Maltese poet and translator.  His multilingual poem Merħba was the Grand Prize winner of the United Planet Writing Contest in 2009.

Merhaba, a poem of hospitality

Merhaba, a poem of hospitality

(The cover photographs of a Tibetan child were taken by
United Planet’s Founder and Executive Director, David Santulli.
United Planet is an international non-profit organisation based
in Boston, USA, which carries out social and educational
development projects in five continents. For more information,
visit http://www.unitedplanet.org.)

Here is how his website describes the poem:

Merħba, a poem of hospitality is a narrative, musical homage to the unfailing and unconditional hospitality and warmth that welcome travellers the world over, despite the tragedies and hardships lived by families and communities on a daily basis. It is at once a celebration and a lamentation of our colourful, shrinking planet and of our common yet conflicting humanity.” (http://antoinecassar.wordpress.com/merhba-a-poem-of-hospitality-2009/)

There is a link to a free download of the poem.

I downloaded it.

I read it.

I loved it.

I fell in love with it.

I couldn’t even understand all of it but loved it despite, or more likely, because.

I love that man, Antoine Cassar, without ever having met him, for he has combined my loves.

~Poetry and Language all wrapped up in Oneness~

Now, I smile, because I have heard the message from the universe and I will not ignore it. Having just returned from Malta two months ago, which was also a stroke of fate, it all made even more sense. I will read Merħba at the opening event of Poets of Babel. I don’t know if Antoine Cassar will ever hear of us, but I am confident that he would approve…

for if you are a poet, we speak the same language. 

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“No Name” Yes, Poetry, Vol. 2, Issue 11: November 2011

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Yes, Poetry, Volume 2, Issue 11, November 2011

Yes, Poetry, Volume 2, Issue 11, November 2011

Sarah, Shoshana. “No Name” Yes, Poetry Volume 2, Issue 11: November 2011.

And while I’m at it, I know it’s a bit late, nevertheless, here it is. My second published poem is on page 7:

http://www.lulu.com/items/volume_73/12176000/12176717/3/print/november.pdf

Enjoy!

“Bread, Water & Gas” The Ilanot Review, Vol.2, No. 3, Autumn 2011

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The Ilanot Review, Volume 3, No. 2, Autumn 2011

The Ilanot Review, Volume 3, No. 2, Autumn 2011

Sarah, Shoshana. “Bread, Water & Gas.” The Ilanot Review Volume 2, Number 3, Autumn 2011.

Now that it’s official and in print an all, I would like to share with you my first publication:

http://www.biu.ac.il/HU/en/cw/ilanot/poetry/sarah.html

Also, PLEASE check out the entire issue: http://www.biu.ac.il/HU/en/cw/ilanot/.

At the poetry reading that took place on December 15, 2011, I enjoyed listening to my fellow writers immensely and left with a renewed sense of respect for prose in particular and inspiration.

Enjoy!

 

Shoshana Sarah

Strangers

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The Berenstain Bears Learn About Strangers

The Berenstain Bears Learn About Strangers (c) HarperColllins Publishers

I have a confession: I’m afraid of the make-up ladies in SuperPharm. It doesn’t matter which branch; they are all the same to me.

Downtown Jerusalem at 21:47 on a Sunday just looks downright seedy in general. Everyone appeared shady tonight, just like a page out of the Berenstain Bears book about strangers. For example, everyone stopped, turned and stared at me when I approached the bus stop- after missing two of my buses- with empty, yet prying looks in their eyes. A man walked too closely behind me after I’d stepped off the eerily slow train. I stopped in my tracks and walked in the opposite direction. (Reading about international sex trafficking, forced prostitution, and systematic rape as a weapon of war has got me paranoid…though it’s a fascinating and inspiring book otherwise.)

Even couples seemed suspicious.

Maybe I was just tired. Today was a big BOO in my book and I was threatening tomorrow to be better.

My only consolation, as I approached my home- much later than I’d intended- was a woman who smiled at me as we simultaneously crossed the street. Somehow, in the seconds that we waited across from each other at the traffic light, we bonded. Perhaps it was the way we both had shoved our hands deep into our coat pockets to brave the Jerusalem winds: Me, in my teal patchy fleece with the elfin hood, her in her llama colored woolen jacket tied at the waist with a dark brown accented sash.

And yet, I knew there was undoubtedly something strange in this evening (even in the day co-workers spoke of the surreal feeling and I’d had trouble focusing on people during meetings, suddenly sensitive to the wall colors behind them) when I saw a pair in their early twenties behaving like teenagers under the influence of something walking smack in the middle of Hebron Road, which is busy even after 10pm. As I heard no screech of tires or smacks against the pavement, I can assume they survived…

Another strange man tosses a creepy glance as he passed me.

I’m almost there. “Mazal tov” is scrawled in colorful chalk on the brick sidewalk leading up to my apartment building; an arrow points straight towards the door of my entrance. ‘Stranger than a yellow brick road,’ I thought. If hadn’t lived there, I wouldn’t have gone in…not tonight.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Not my usual, but hey, gotta keep it real; there will be sunshine in the morning.

A Year of Transformation

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I was there!

I Touched the Sky!

{Written December 29, 2011 & January 1, 2011}

“This is my inception, I’m writing my dreams” ~Common, “Blue Sky” The Dreamer, The Believer

2011 has been a great year of positive transformation. I got published (“Bread, Water and Gas” in the Ilanot Review http://www.biu.ac.il/HU/en/cw/ilanot/ & “No Name” in Yes, Poetry http://yespoetry.com/post/13311920484/vol-2-issue-11-november-2011), lost weight, and got promoted at work (yes, in that order, actually).

I read poetry and danced in front of an audience for the first time in 12 years! I got 99% of my poetry copy-writ, started a blog, and started family therapy (the past 5 years hadn’t been easy on the children since my divorce and up until I got remarried last year). I’ve even (re-)started therapy for myself (I see it as a preemptive measure) and I’ve been dancing regularly at Studio 6 (http://www.studio6.co.il/) for a full year now; it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself.

I was literally in the clouds and touched the sky for my 30th birthday (http://www.hotairballoon.co.il/english/hot-air-balloon-over-israel-with-touch-the-sky/) and had the best birthday party ever with the people I love the most, in a park with wine & cheese. Earlier, in the same summer, my family took a trip up north, stayed on a Moshav in Amnon off the Sea of Galilee, and traveled to Rosh haNikra and Tel Dan. It was the first nuclear family only trip…and the best. This November, the Mr. and I flew to Malta and feel in love with the “Little Things.” I ate culture for breakfast and it tasted like ambrosia.

Even in the most latter days of the year 2011, I’ve learned new lessons in motherhood. I began listening to the teleseminar event “The Great Parenting Show” (http://greatparentingshow.com/), each episode, a gem. Since I began listening and applying what I’d heard, I’ve learned to let go and be present with my children, consistently, in a way that allows me to enjoy parenting which I hadn’t truly been able to do before. The past few weeks, the “Shoshana Girls” and I’ve been having a blast!

Finally, as a result of my new managerial position and being exposed to the yearly budget of centers in my company, I initiated, for the first time, a yearly budget for my household (shocking, I know). I also learned that being able to create an excel sheet for the household budget is sexy. 😉 (The Mr. made it.)

Now, I don’t believe in New Year’s Resolutions as a rule. I have a problem with the timing. I think I should be making “resolutions” all year long. That said, there’s no reason why now, 3 days before, January 1, 2012, I can’t come up with some points for improvement:

1. I started a blog this year but, until now, I hadn’t updated it since August. I want to start blogging regularly again. (Already, moving towards this one this very moment! ;-))

2. I got published twice this year but I want to get published more! There is a book goal somewhere in the horizon which requires that I send off more submissions.

3. This year I lost 5 kilos (11 lbs) within a couple of months. I want to loose 5 more within a few months or less!

4. Last, but certainly not least, I’ve taken the first step but I’ve got a lot more steps towards this goal. I want to live completely financially responsible.

Another element of these goals is that they are more focused than my usually scattered aims. I’ve decided to focus on my writing at the moment (notice 50% of the above goals are writing related). So, *sniff, sniff* ~sigh~ establishing the NGO, directing the films, the t-shirts, the voice lessons so that I can sing Billie Holiday, the language courses (Arabic again & intermediate Russian), the phd in Communications, re-taking the Foreign Service Officer’s Test, and joining the circus will all have to wait because I’ve realized that I can only do one thing at a time…if I want to do anything right. Writing is at the heart of any vision I have of myself; it is the common thread between my two categories of passions, Arts and Communications. Writing is the one thing that I love and never consciously chose to take up…now I choose it in a BIG way.

Like, I said folks, these aren’t resolutions, they are a conscious way of life.

I write visions, goals, and plans throughout the year, constantly (let my journal be my witness). This time, I decided to share because when I reflected on the transformations I went through in 2011- I realized something unsettling, shocking even: I do believe it has been the best year of my life so far. I expect 2012 to be off the hook…as long as I’m writing my dreams. 😀