Love and Selected Poems / Edition 1

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Poetry, now available in paperback. In his fusions of the sensual and the spiritual, the ordinary and the exalted, the sexual in the suffering psyche and the intelligent consciousness searching and spinning through history, myth and layers of language, Shabtai is one of the most exciting poets writing anywhere, and certainly the most audacious-C.K. Williams. These poems, written between 1966 and 1995, juxtapose the personal with the universal and the everyday with the mythical in terse, expert observations: I'll ready the offering: / myself / (I don't want myself except / to offer myself) // my blood is my fate / and my fate the deep // music of your voice (Love). The result is a sacred and erotic poetry greater than the sum of its parts, one that can be placed in a line that stretches from Biblical and Greek origins. to Catullus to Joyce to Jean Genet and other masters of language, revelry, and revelation-Stanley Moss.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Consider the difficulties of translating poetry from Hebrew, a language read from right to left, its individual letters laden with symbolic and mathematical meanings of their own so that a single word can add up to an entire morality play. There is little that English can do to match that, but Cole, a poet, has nonetheless come up with a spirited and speedy version of Shabtai's work. The lines are short, simple and severe, with the occasional schmear of transliterated Hebrew for flavor: "I'm a man/ who murdered love// simply/ with his own two hands// took/ and snapped its neck/ like a lamb// and then, with his fee,/ his slaughterer's fee,// promptly turned/ into// a groisser hocham/a wise ass." There are few complex issues to grasp here. Drawing on rabbinic and Hellenic traditions, Shabtai elaborates on straightforward themes: lust, homestead and more lust. His long poem "Kibbutz" is a vivid checklist of "tools and their objects/... a hooked rod/ for catching chickens, a beak clipper," while the title poem (and much of the rest of the book) describesin a spirit more befitting a sailor than a Tel Aviv father of sixa woman that he wanted, a woman that he had and lost and various gorgeous ladies of mythology. In addition to his fluent translation, Cole provides an incisive introduction that sets Shabtai and his work in context. (Aug.)
Library Journal
This volume introduces American readers to an Israeli poet who emerged during the mid-1980s. Shabtai, previously known as the foremost translator of Greek poetry into Hebrew, splays his poems with sexual references that in Greek, and possibly in the original Hebrew, might be sensual: "Eroticin the ancient sense/ the daemonic." In English, they contain a superfluous vulgarity verging on bestiality. Despite the translator's focus on "Love" as the work that brought him to prominence as a poet in Israel, American readers might relate better to selections from other volumes included here, such as "Kibbutz" or "Begin" (the latter a collage built around Menachem Begin's life in the Israeli underground and the birth of his second child). Abandoning the cadences found in other modern Israeli poets and adopting, as translator Cole points out, the style of Williams or Olson, these poems play with language and structure, breaking new ground. For comprehensive poetry and Judaica collections only.Rochelle Ratner, formerly Poetry Editor, "Soho Weekly News," New York
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781878818539
  • Publisher: Sheep Meadow Press, The
  • Publication date: 12/1/1997
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 248
  • Product dimensions: 6.27 (w) x 9.33 (h) x 0.93 (d)

Table of Contents

Love 1
Before School 99
Our Culture 103
The Dining Hall 106
Education 111
The Domestic Poem 123
The Revolt 142
from Part II 143
The Car 169
A Street 170
"The last year of my marriage" 171
Spoon and Fork 172
The Prayer Book 173
"Sometimes a step" 174
The Heart 175
The Onion Basket 176
"Masha, my mother" 177
"I tossed and turned" 178
To My Daughter 179
The Shoe 180
The Door 181
Honor 182
"Two or three months apart" 187
"I'm obliged to honor your cunt" 188
"I pay no attention" 189
"Let's join our apartments' openings" 190
"The body's our final farm" 191
"Ziva" 192
"I brush the teeth of the beast" 193
"The essence of wisdom" 194
"I pound my egghead" 195
"The pig reads nothing" 196
"Like the ant and the seed" 201
"Through folly" 202
"Like a butterfly" 203
"My heart's so full of shit" 204
"With each passing season and year" 205
"Day after day after day" 206
"When you were twenty" 207
Consecration 211
For National Poetry Week 1992 212
Again You're in Paris 213
Finding It Hard to Fall Asleep 214
I've Always Missed Out 215
Drenched With Sweat 216
If All the World Were Contained 217
Ah Nili 218
Never Again Will I Break that Record 219
Happiness 220
Nothing Will Come of You 221
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