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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!

 

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Split in Two: between Gifts and Blind Fury

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 “Man is literally split in two: he has an awareness of his own splendid uniqueness in that he sticks out of nature with a towering majesty, and yet he goes back into the ground a few feet in order blindly and dumbly to rot and disappear forever.” ~ Ernest Becker, The Denial of Death

joy harjo gifts

 

“Fame in the spur that the clear spirit doth raise

(That lest infirmity of noble mind)

To scorn delight and live laborious days;

But the fair guerdon when we hope to find,

And think to burst out into sudden blaze,

Comes the blind Fury with the abhorred, sheers,

And slits the thin-spun life…

But not the praise”

~John Milton “Lycidas”

 

I read Joy Harjo’s Crazy Brave this semester, which is where the above quote is taken from. Harjo showed me the kind of story teller I want to be. I breathed in her words as my own: “In a fast, narrow crack of perception, I knew this is what I was put here to do: I must become the poem, the music, and the dancer.” This month, saw the three minute video “Existential Bummer” by Jason Silva with the Ernest Becker quote, which immediately caught my attention as one of the best ways I’ve heard the cognitive dissonance of existence put into one sentence. In the video Silva says “we defy entropy and impermanence with our films and our poems.” Then, while working on an assignment and searching for lines inspired by class material, I found the “Lycidas” quote copied into my journal from last year along with the entry below. Though it’s nine months old, I find that I am still, and perhaps will always be, split in two: between my gifts and the blind Fury.

 

What Does It All Mean?

October 11, 2013

I was walking in town thinking about what it all means. Our energy is borrowed and one day we will have to return it. I’ve been thinking about it every morning and every night. What is it all for, what are these unique creatures; are we just ants, just animals, just leaves on a tree to fall and be remembered in the fall and forgotten in the spring? I want to be known but there is so much to know; I want to be remembered but there is so much to remember. And it will only last for so long and what good will it do me when I’m gone to be remembered? I won’t know anyway. Any memorial can be torn down, any book destroyed and forgotten—and what is it all for? I am entering the best stage of my life so far: thoroughly conscious ignorance, plus on the path of my own choosing, my own making. I was immensely grateful. Now, I am an English teacher and a poetry student; I am a dancer and a performer by hobby; I am recognized as an artist, a poet, an organizer. But I want more and will want more and plan and plan and gather and gather like a busy bee (I was visited by a bee again) and then—I will blink a few times. My daughters will be women; I may see children and grandchildren; I will possibly be honored and surely loved; my parents will depart and I will suddenly remember things I should have said and done, perhaps. There is a future that the movies promised us: sci-fi will be real or the sun may burn out or a dystopia, but all of my generation will pass and the future generations will pass and how long can this go on, and then what? Even with more answers there will always be more questions: can god be proved, is there a power of attraction, what do the charts tell us, what do the cards tell us, what will science find, and what monsters will be created? I will gather and achieve and still ask, what does it all mean, and it will end; the only thing that is sure, the only thing that is sure is decomposition: every story will end.

 

 

Because the Poets are Healers

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Murdered BoysNigerian girls

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is just a piece of what’s going on in the world. 276 Nigerian girls kidnapped, three Israeli boys kidnapped and murdered, a Palestinian boy kidnapped and murdered, burned alive. I live in Jerusalem, so the latter is more poignant; there has been rioting, violence, racist cries for death, ignorance, calls for revenge, and suspicions all over Facebook feeds and in the news. I am also a mother of daughters; I can’t forget–as it seems to be already forgotten– about daughters taken, god knows what is being done to them away from home and in the hands of violent men. And this is just a piece, there is more, always more–

At times like these, I think of the quote by the late great Maya Angelou,

“We are all human; therefore, nothing human can be alien to us.”

I think it means that we fail to recognize how easy it can be to go so low. We love to hail the beauty of the world, but there is ugliness, and a lot of it and it is all human. It is jarring, disturbing, heart-wrenching, when I allow myself to think about it. I normally don’t, I must admit. Sometimes, I am afraid that if I let in all the woes of the world it would break me in despair. But when I do, I want to fight the horrors; I still don’t know how. I find solace in poetry; others have as well. I don’t mean be naive. There is a level where poetry clearly won’t do a damn thing to change politics and the minds of murderers. And yet, there is great power in words– poetry is the epitome of that force. Poetry has a long history of documenting the times, telling legends, inciting, enticing, eulogizing; the danger of poetry, the sanctuary of poetry is well known; it crosses all boundaries and rises above–and the poets are healers. When we say ‘there are no words for this,’ it is poetry that finds the words. There is a way to know through the eye/I of the poet.

I want to share with you three poems–written out of that spirit in the midst of hate– that I believe have found the words. Two were written by friends of mine who live in Israel, one by me.

 

Revisions

People

children die every day

 

Revision of life

means revision

of meaning

 

Revenge or honor

killings   No

matter

We live to die

 

The homosexual boy:

Boy bled

in the crook of his father’s arms black sedan’s

back seat–a suspected execution

block–a coffin with seat belts and airbags

Burnt and bound–found

in a forest

 

[ put your heads down!

gunshots and Arabs singing ]

Three extreme zionist religious Jewish boys

deserved what they got

 

Murder takes back seat

to rhetoric

as do point blank

bullet wounds

 

Instead of words

a rocket will be sent from a schoolyard

and a missile returned to sender

They’ll get what’s coming to them

 

Two hundred and seventy six

Nigerian schoolgirls

will not be returned

without a war skirmish

Though their children will

with machetes and machine rifles

nestled in their dark slender arms

 

Hashtags won’t save our generations

A mortar

round in the hand

is a mortar round

in the air

 

People

as we digress

our children suffer

 

We live by the sword

we die by the sword

No meaning changed

by our revisions

-m z friedline

 

[Untitled]

Days, blurred into each other
Like there was no sleep.
The fuzz
of a hundred TV sets
and radios…
remnants
of another forest fire.
Newspaper print
on the fingers
of early-morning travelers,
the serious concentration
of the bus driver…
Another headline
and children, searching for truth
in the faces
of surrounding adults.
Waves of pain
drifting through neighbourhoods…
Sparks of strength
and unison
running through city streets
and a soft, gentle stroking of each other…
a blinding light
calling us all
away from the darkness…

~Louise Harris- Zvieli

 

Stop the Game

I know it’s hard. You are sitting there thinking, those could have been my boys, my brothers, me. You are thinking, summer has barely started; schools just got out today and some are now on eternal break, broken eternally. No one has won the game anymore–if you’re going to stop the game, then *stop* the game, dammit–no one has won, just lost. But what they don’t tell you in the games, is that nations are made from suffering together–more than shared joys. Is this a good thing, or very, very sad? Perhaps it is a part of the human support mechanism–come closer when it hurts. All I know is, the news will be on forever, especially here–there are hundreds of girls missing too–and the news is forever on, forever on, there will never not be news, only, what is news is old, very old, ancient, never-ending and we have to fall asleep sometimes, but the news will outlive us all.

~Shoshana Sarah K.

 

~~~

Moshe Ze’ev Friedline was born in Boulder Creek, California. He is currently studying English literature at Bar Ilan University in Israel. He is married and has a young daughter and younger son. He realized two years ago that he really enjoys writing poetry. He once found himself in an awkward conversation with a bull in a steakhouse.

Louise Harris- Zvieli says she’s just herself.

 

 *Poetry shared with the permission of the authors. All rights remain to the respective poets.

 

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.”

 

 

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

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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!

“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

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. 😀

Second Published Poem!

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The Spring 2008 issue of Tar River Poetry. Cov...

Image via Wikipedia

“Dear Shoshana,

Thank you for your submission to Yes, Poetry. Yes, Poetry would like to include “No Name” in our November issue. Please reply to this message with any questions you may have. You will receive an email when the issue is online. Thank you again for submitting.

Also, feel free to friend us on facebook for updates: https://www.facebook.com/yespoetry

I’m super-excited!!

Check out Yes, Poetry (yespoetry.com). I just love the name of the journal!

Also, I know I’ve been bad at posting, but I’m trying to do something else big, soon! More news to come!

Love & Joy,

Shoshana

p.s. What do you think of my blog’s name change? It was totally spontaneous from two quotes I’ve loved for a long time…

First Published Poem!!!

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“Dear Shoshana
We’re happy to inform you that your poem, Bread, Water and Gas, has been selected for publication in the Fall 2011 edition of The Ilanot Review.”
Yay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The perfect gift for my 30th birthday this Friday!