Tag Archives: Tower of Babel

The First Poets of Babel Meeting! (…was 3 months ago!)

Standard

Image

Four months and 16 days later, the first meeting of Poets of Babel has finally taken place and it was amazing. We were only 7, but then again 7 is the number of perfection.

Ira, a Russian Israeli and Hebrew teacher arrived first. I met Ira at Hillel House in 2008 when I made my documentary film “Stranger” on stereotypes in Israel; it was love at first sight. I found her, in her flowing burgundy skirt at the table with the Mr. as I rushed in the door at 9:00. We were supposed to start at 9:30. Not long after, a girl with a sweet demeanor and a soft voice knocked on my door. She introduced herself as Isabella, a friend of Nadine’s. Isabella is a German student of philosophy and Middle Eastern studies (who hopes to switch the latter to musicology) learning in Jerusalem. I asked her “Where’s Nadine?” She didn’t know so I told her to make herself at home and the four of us chatted for well over an hour before Nadine arrived. Nadine, is the one who magically said “We should start a poetry club” on that fateful day in January.

There were only two left who we were waiting for. Both Michal, a law student and English lit, and Adi a graduate of linguistics and translation working on her masters in translation, were friends from work where we used to teach English together at Wall Street Institute in Jerusalem. Michal has a business card that reads “Muse” and she fulfilled her role when she discovered that I write poetry and started sharing her poetry magazines, such as Rattle and Poetry which fueled my inspiration for quite a few months (especially since it took me quite a few months to return them). Adi used to make me drool over linguistics during our breaks together when she discussed her studies and made me crave a return to the university. When she introduced herself to the group she said of her studies, because writing poetry is just something she occasionally does but not what she is, “I guess that’s what earns me a place in Poets of Babel.”

We drew numbers from my Broadway hat from last year’s performance. I was 3. Three is the number of truth and connection. It also represents permanence like holy utterances that must be spoken three times.

I started off by telling them that even though this was my idea, in my house, with my friends I was terrified.  It’s never easy to share but as Adi said later about her volunteer work, it’s a shlichut, a calling. Then I read Merħba, a poem of hospitality , the perfect beginning. “God sent you my friend, you brought the sun with you” is how I greeted them and the end which is really the doorway to embark on a new journey together assured that ” you will always find the door open.”

Adi started off- after trading  numbers with Isabella- with a spontaneous selection from a new poetry book I had , Life on Mars by Tracy K. Smith. The poem, “It’s Not,” pleasantly surprised us all by actually being good despite being impromptu.

….

This is the post that I started in May and now next Wednesday we will be having our 3rd Poets of Babel meeting. Third time’s the charm! I couldn’t seem to get this post out so now I’m just going to do it! Check out our Facebook Page!

Advertisements

Tower of Babel

Standard
Tower of Babel by Shoshana Sarah

My Tower of Babel

So…I am obsessed with the Tower of Babel. I’m not 100% sure why although it’s clear to me that this obsession relates to my love of languages. But it’s not just the love of speaking languages or even hearing them, but just seeing the text of another language sends me into an irrationally ecstatic frenzy. I get giddy. Seriously, I do.

I bought a poster of the Tower of Babel. Once, I took my daughters to the museum for kids day, the day the subject was the Tower of Babel, of course, and then took over one of their projects (hey, she let me!). Then I decided that I wanted to imitate that project in a collage. The product is what you see here.

I started off with two A4 papers that I taped together. I drew out the framework of where I wanted things to be. Then I started cutting…it started out normal enough, pictures of skies for the sky (the cool clouds near the top are pics from Hubble)…but this was my first *pre-meditated* collage. Hence, the obsession reached a new level.

I would laugh like a mad scientist when I’d found a new scrap of language to add like finding an marvelous, not so decomposed ear for my Frankenstein. I would snatch papers from the street (one man’s trash became my treasure), take flyers that were clearly not meant for me from the post office, and hunted down as many languages as I could ‘naturally’ get my hands on like a cold-blooded killer.

Ok, maybe I’m taking this a bit too far.

I started with the old yellowed paper at the bottom which I knew- the moment I saw it discarded on the street- would be the ‘sand’ and the first part of the collage. The sky was the easy part (the moon took a while to find). I wanted the languages I found to really be ‘found’- I knew I could Google whatever I wanted to but I refrained as much as possible (couldn’t resist the Sanskrit, Hindi, Celtic and Georgian though).

The collage includes: English, Russian, Hebrew, French, Spanish, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Persian (thanks, Yuliya), Arabic, Sanskrit, Hindi, Celtic, Amharic, Ancient Hebrew, Hieroglyphics (my pride & joy), Greek, Georgian, what I am 95% sure is Thai (the post office flyer that clearly wasn’t for me) and Ancient Cuneiform(some of which I sketched on top of the collage).

There are also a variety of flags, symbols- such as the Olympics symbol and the Mayan sun and moon gods, the Hebrew name of god at the top of the tower, as well as strategically placed purposeful English phrases such as: “pillars of creation,” “mysteries of the universe,” and “he loved the people.”

I cut the palm trees outs of images of plants and wood, respectively. The camels on both sides are actually one picture. The right side is the water reflection of the left, which I thought was cool and reminiscent of a mirage. The silver windows are from cigarette packaging and the gold windows are from confiscated gold paper from a certain educational facility (*ahem*).

The icing on the cake is the sun I painted myself- I cut it out of another painting (I am forever indebted to Racheli for teaching me how to mix colors) and the REAL sand, which I shamelessly had my oldest daughter ‘misappropriate’ from the school grounds (she was quite impatient for me to use it which took me the better part of a month).

~*~*~*~

After all that, I started thinking, maybe I should have been patient. I should have researched all of the languages that have ever existed (to man’s knowledge of course) and then arranged them etymologically and chronologically from the bottom up with English at the top as the new lingua franca in one enormous, meticulously planned, ridiculously awesome Magnum Opus!!!

*sigh*

So…I am obsessed with the Tower of Babel…

…I’m also obsessed with words, clocks, maps and compasses (by the way, I’m almost finished with the words collage and I’m collecting maps as we speak).