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Download With an Iron Pen: Twenty Years of Hebrew Protest Poetry (Excelsior Editions) epub

by Tal Nitzan,Rachel Tzvia Back

A groundbreaking collection of forty-two Israeli poetic voices protesting the occupation of the West Bank.
Download With an Iron Pen: Twenty Years of Hebrew Protest Poetry (Excelsior Editions) epub
ISBN: 143842647X
ISBN13: 978-1438426471
Category: Literature
Subcategory: History & Criticism
Author: Tal Nitzan,Rachel Tzvia Back
Language: English
Publisher: Excelsior Editions (March 10, 2009)
Pages: 169 pages
ePUB size: 1729 kb
FB2 size: 1207 kb
Rating: 4.9
Votes: 651
Other Formats: azw lrf mbr txt

There are wonderful works here, a testimony to the power of Israeli artists to engage with their society's sins of occupation and loss of authentic Zionist values. One of the readers on this site is highly negative and demagogue-like, demanding "Who will read it then except of course those who wish to hate and condemn Israel?" The answer of course--anyone who cares for the people of Israel and Palestine and who mourns the terrible human toll that occupation and needless wars have taken on both peoples. Many of my colleagues have found this an outstanding resource for their university and high school classes. A worthy volume of essays that might serve as a companion is the collection entitled NARRATIVES OF DISSENT: WAR IN CONTEMPORARY ISRAELI ARTS & CULTURE:[...]
With an Iron Pen is important for American readers to read for two reasons. One is that the poetry is so powerful simply as poetry. There is work here by some of Israel's greatest poets, including Yehuda Amichai, Maya Bejerano, Ramy Ditzanny, Moshe Dor, Dahlia Ravikovich, Meir Wieseltier and Natan Zach. The translations, by nearly a dozen excellent translators, capture the way Israeli poetry in our time blends biblical and liturgical references--references every Israeli whether religious or secular would understand--with the most acute modernity. Dahlia Ravikovich, for instance, ironically begins a poem whose title quotes Psalm 137, "Our Captors Required of us a Song," "Sing for us from the songs of Zion/ which will ascend to a deaf ear." She goes on, "Hasten and sing for us a new song--/we'll pull the song from your throats with pliers..../ For what are we without your agony?/A broken vessel. The hatred in your throats is also a broken vessel." Notice how the "we" and the "you" in this poem remain ambiguous, forcing the reader to question and wonder? This is the kind of work only poetry can do. But poetry can also do the work of compassion. Listing the contents of a Palestinian home which is just about to be demolished, Yoram Levy Porat quotes Psalm 42:

Pots, pans,
Chimney of galvanized tin,
Blakets, pillows, old bedspread,
An embroidered silk bird
Panteth after the water brooks.

The other reason Americans need this book is that we need to recognize the sorrow, anger, bitterness and despair, the hope and the hopelessness, felt by Israelis of conscience, who love their country just as we love ours, and yearn to save its soul just as we who struggle against our own country's policies yearn. We take it for granted that poets wrote in opposition to the Vietnam War, and write now in opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan--because they are unwinnable and because they are unjust. The Israeli poets in this book feel the same about the Occupation.
This collection is as beautiful as it is heartwrending. A view into a side of Israeli conscience often overlooked, these poems from both major poets and everyday folk show us that, despite the threats of terrorism, Israelis feel remorse and think deeply about the impacts of their country's responses to the conflict. Some would prefer to maintain the one-dimensional portrayal of Israelis as proud victors in the Israeli-Arab conflict, or helpless victims of it. This book reveals Israelis who are uncomfortable, discontent, or righteously enraged with those portrayals.

Some poems are openly critical of Israeli counter-terrorism brutality, others of the limp peace movement. Some are hopeful, some are utterly depressed. The book is a sample of the variety of voices that are part and parcel of Israel grappling with its own consequences. This book is not for advocacy purposes; it's about conscience.

The footnotes in the back also helpfully highlight where poets used Biblical phrases, explains news events referenced in the poems, and explains the puns used in original Hebrew. Reading the book through again with the added context makes it twice as resonant.

I highly, highly recommend this to anyone seeking to understand the many dimensions of Israeli society and conscience.
This collection is one- track, and simple- minded. It does not in any way take into consideration the claim of the Jewish people to its Biblical heartland, Judea and Samaria. What is even more troublesome is that it does not take into account the war of Terror and Dispossesion which has been waged against the Yishuv in Israel ever since its inception. Its political single- mindedness makes it difficult to sympathize with any redeeming literary virtues it may have.
Who will read it then except of course those who wish to hate and condemn Israel?
As for the collection itself it includes works of a number of the most respected Hebrew poets, but also includes marginal figures more noted for politics than for poetry.
There is no original Hebrew text so that the reader of both languages can properly evaluate the poetry.