Tag Archives: Poets of Babel

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In addition to my beloved Poets of Babel, I’ve started a new page called “We are a threat to the national identity.” It was an impromptu reaction to this article about the ban of a book (Borderlife by Dorit Rabinyan) in which there is a Jewish-Palestinian love affair. But honestly, this is really the result of years of being asked if I’m Jewish while living in Israel, being called a goy, or a shiksa, being asked if I’ll convert, or even being told I have a Jewish soul (which is supposed to be a compliment but only serves to represent the cognitive dissonance of my existence in this country). The byline goes like this:

“Goy,” “shiksa,” “danger of assimilation,” “a threat to the identity of the nation”–this is what they call us: those who would ban a book because it encourages intermarriage between Jews and non-Jews. That was just the impetus for this group, but what it brings up has been on my mind for a long time. *This is a group for people who love people and not nationalities, or are a product of such love. Post your inter-whatever love here.

I hope you all can show support. Let’s get the message out. I want to break the internet in 2016 with our extra-Jewish affairs and our inter-whatever love. There is no box dammit.

Happy New Year!

 

LET’S GET LIT: Babbling towards Baghdad (My First Radio Interview!)

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60s chic

 

I know, I know, I haven’t been around. But I’ve been studying poetry, falling in love lyric essay, being awaken at night by the muse. But now that the semester– and my first year of studying poetry– is over I’m getting busy again. Before I could fully get my foot out the door of the university and into summer vacation (and on the same day that I had a test in American Literature!) I had my first radio interview on “Let’s Get Lit” the TLV1 FM program with journalist and author Ilene Prusher. I was so nervous and as soon as I was done, I started obsessing about how I should have said everything differently! But instead of talking about it, how about you just listen and tell me what you think:

Let’s Get Lit: Babbling towards Baghdad

“American-born, Jerusalem-dwelling poet and polyglot Shoshana Sarah brings us inside the world of her multi-dimensional, multi-lingual poetry. She talks about “Poets of Babel,” a Jerusalem group she founded, and reads from her work.

Plus, a short review of Baghdad: The City in Verse, an anthology of 170 Arabic poems, most of them appearing in English for the first time, in a collection translated and edited by the University of Haifa’s Reuven Snir.”

 

 

Update: New Pages, such as Poetry Reading Videos

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I don’t know if any of you have noticed but I’ve been updating pages on my site with photos and videos of poetry readings and performances…drop menus! (It was exciting for me because it took me forever to figure out how to do it. You can remain unimpressed. I’ll understand.)

Just to give you a look, I’m posting here below one of my favorite pages “Poets of Babel Readings” (Found in the drop menu of “Poetry Readings (Video)”).

Enjoy! (And check out all the pages & drop menus!)

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Below are the public poetry readings I’ve given at Poets of Babel. To read more about Poets of Babel, see videos, photos and the Poets of Babel Facebook page, see here.

Poets of Babel 1 Year Anniversary at the Jerusalem Cinematheque, May 30, 2013

“Maïté ”

Poets of Babel #14 at the Jerusalem Cinematheque, June 24, 2013

“אין גן עדן בגן שלנו” (“There is no heaven in our garden”)

Poets of Babel #15 at Avram Bar, July 21, 2013

“Babili/Home”

(Poem starts at 0:52 after introduction in Hebrew)

Poets of Babel #17 at Hanal’e (The Han Theater Coffee Shop), September 16, 2013

“To the Soldiers of Fortune”

Poets of Babel #14 at the Jerusalem Cinematheque

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I’ve got almost a month of events to catch you up on! But we’ll do this in chronological order. If you haven’t seen it on Poets of Babel’s Facebook page, here are the videos from the poetry readings June 24th, 2013 (Late, I know! But when you see the rest of what I’ve been doing, you’ll understand!)

 

 

 

 

 

Tuvit Shlomi, Dutch (By the way, here is a very interesting article about Tuvit)

 

Emmy Raviv, English

 

Gilad Meiri, Hebrew (Gilad Meiri is a prominent Israeli poet, read more about him and his organization Poetry Place)

Talea Azzam, Arabic (Notice how he says Babel/Babili!)

 

Isabelle Cohn, German

 

Natan Perchikov, Russian

 

 

How about a round of applause? For the rest of the photos from the event, click here.

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See For Yourself~Poets of Babel’s 1st Anniversary Videos

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It took me a while, perhaps too long, but I have still abided by my old rule of sharing “before the next event,” which will be next Monday, June 24th. Instead of telling you how it was, I’m just going to let you listen for yourself. It’ll be almost like you didn’t miss a thing.

~To enjoy the human voice in variation; to love the spoken word, foreign and poetic…

Moriel Rothman- English, Hebrew & Arabic

Amir Khalifa- Arabic

Alon Metrikin Gold- Hebrew

Sarina Furer- English

Valery Daniel Karasik- Russian

Shoshana Sarah – (English) Closing Poem, Dedicated to Maïté

 

Spoken Word Open Mic with Live Music- Nathan

Spoken Word Open Mic with Live Music- Ellen Potless

 

 

Poets of Babel’s Rebirth: 1 Year Anniversary at the Jerusalem Cinematheque and Beyond

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PoetsofBabel May 30Poets of Babel is metamorphosing into a larger, less familiar creature. It started in my home with only two rules: (1) Read in any language as long as there was someone who understood (bring a friend!) and (2) Everyone participates.

I had to break rule number one very early on. Sometimes there was only one person who spoke the language to be read in, like the time we had a Danish poem about a taxi driver which was quite the experience!  I wouldn’t have wanted to miss it based on a silly rule.

I also learned rather quickly that I did not know as many poets as I thought did. In order to preserve rule number two, I had to loosen my hold on how I believed that should look (as in sharing original works only). Then, many friends started coming reading poems that were not their own, but that touched them, sometimes famous poems, sometimes obscure ones, sometimes a poem written by their family or friends, or a poem from books that were gifts, or books that were borrowed. It brought about even more of a cultural exchange and interesting conversations than I had imagined even though sometimes I was the ‘only poet’ there. Even the Mr., who is ‘not that into poetry’  and had assured me that if he hadn’t enjoyed Poets of Babel, he ‘would have found somewhere else to be,’ had a fancy for reading Baudelaire poems translated into Russian.

“So as not to be the martyred slaves of time, be drunk, be
continually drunk! On wine, on poetry or on virtue as you wish.”

~“Be Drunk,” Charles Baudelaire

Then I started adding activities that I mostly made-up a few hours before. The non-poets became poets after ‘bobbing for dadaist poems’ in our October meeting,

completing ‘beginnings and endings’ in our January meeting, sending ‘mishloach Valentines’ in February,or going ‘egg poem hunting’ in March.

bobbing for dadaist poemsyou are a carnivalegg huntwriting

I’d never conceived of this idea before taking ModPo, the Modern and Contemporary American Poetry course offered by Coursera which exposed me to “To Make a Dadaist Poem” by Tristan Tzara and Bernadette Mayer’s Writing Experiments.

Now all that is about to change. Poets of Babel is going to celebrate it’s 1 Year Anniversary at the Jerusalem Cinematheque. They liked the idea so much, they want to pilot it as a continuous event! The essence will be the same, poetry and languages, but it will be an entirely different energy. It’s a night with a poetic film (“Howl” based on the poem by Allen Ginsberg this time), poetry readings in different languages (this time we will have poems in Hebrew, Arabic, English, Russian,German and a trilingual poem!), and a spoken word open mic with a jazzy improv accompanyment.

I’m excited! …and concerned, full of hope and full of wonder. What will happen to the spirit of the event that I had created and enjoyed in my home where I welcomed strangers with Antoine Cassar’s Merħba, a poem of hospitality I cannot read:

“our house is small
yet as big as a world”

at the Cinematheque and really mean it, or

“Welcome to my home, to your home, to our home,
to a home spinning in light,
in dark, in shade,
welcome to a world spinning in the light
which spins in the dark of the blood”

with the fullness of heart that I did in my living room amongst the faces of friends who were and friends who will be circling around me. I fear the intimacy will be gone…and yet. And yet I am reminded of the untitled poem that spawned from the ‘egg poetry hunt’ activity we did two months ago:

Perhaps the great error is believing we’re alone

Death, home, Daddy, love, friendship, the masses

they are all inside of us

the music, the wars, the oceans we’ve been in

they are here

the people we haven’t seen in months

the people we have yet to meet

the games you can eat

the hidden things

they are our rebirth

They are here. The poets who shared with me. The non-poets who became writers in my living room if only for a few moments. The poems we light-heartedly created together. The love that eminated from Merħba each time I read it and as time went on, when we read it together, each chimming in to read a language known. And I have no idea what new hidden things await in this new life for a group that started as a conversation in Tel Aviv, in January 2012.

I will take it all with me whereever Poets of Babel goes, into each reincarnation.

I do hope it goes far.

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.