War & Love, Love & War: New and Selected Poems

War & Love, Love & War: New and Selected Poems

by Aharon Shabtai
     
 

A rich, far-ranging, powerful selection of a lifetime’s work by the Israeli poet Aharon Shabtai, “one of the most exciting writers working in Hebrew today” (Ha’aretz).War & Love, Love & War presents a poetic biography of one of Israel’s living literary masters, an artist whom the National Book Award–winner C. K. Williams has

Overview

A rich, far-ranging, powerful selection of a lifetime’s work by the Israeli poet Aharon Shabtai, “one of the most exciting writers working in Hebrew today” (Ha’aretz).War & Love, Love & War presents a poetic biography of one of Israel’s living literary masters, an artist whom the National Book Award–winner C. K. Williams has called “one of the most exciting poets writing anywhere, and certainly the most audacious.” The book moves from shockingly potent political poems to love lyrics that are as explosive and sometimes bawdy as they are tender; from early and stirring inventories of kibbutz life to a radically inventive midrash on (and paean to) the career and character of the Israeli right-wing leader Menachem Begin; from passion for justice to passion for a deeply mourned wife. At the end of it all is a prose ars poetica in which Shabtai discusses the method behind his marvelous madness. Peter Cole’s powerful translation displays the full and astonishing range of Aharon Shabtai’s oeuvre in a single volume for the first time in English.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A household name in Israel, Shabtai is the author of the PEN Translation Award–winning J'Accuse, 18 volumes of verse, and of numerous translations from Greek to Hebrew. One finds in this selection, spanning the period 1986–2008, a voice mostly elided from American mappings of the Israel/Palestine question: acute, unblinking, unafraid to question, and aware of the stakes. The selection begins matter-of-factly: "These creatures in helmets and khakis,/ I say to myself, aren't Jews,/ in the truest sense of the word. A Jew/ doesn't dress himself up with weapons like jewelry/ doesn't believe in the barrel of a gun aimed at a target,/ but in the thumb of the child who was shot at--." But to reduce the book to that would be to miss the complexity of "Love," an excerpted long poem that recalls Creeley's For Love even as it moves into an erotic anguish all its own, and the twinkling humor of poems like "Tanya Was Gorgeous"--itself situated in an uncategorizable elegy: part kaddish for a person, part for a marriage. Cole does a remarkable job bringing lightness and immediacy to Shabtai's quotidian observations and depth to his spiritual delvings, making this an excellent introduction to a vast and varied oeuvre. (Sept.)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780811218900
Publisher:
New Directions Publishing Corporation
Publication date:
10/26/2010
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
192
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.60(d)

Meet the Author

Born in 1939 and educated on a kibbutz, and at the Hebrew University, the Sorbonne, and Cambridge, Aharon Shabtai is the author of sixteen books of poetry and the greatest contemporary translator into Hebrew of Greek drama.

Peter Cole’s previous books of poems include Things on Which I’ve Stumbled (New Directions). Among his volumes of translation are The Poetry of Kabbalah: Mystical Verse from the Jewish Tradition and The Dream of the Poem: Hebrew Poetry from Muslim and Christian Spain, 950-1492. Cole, who divides his time between Jerusalem and New Haven, was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2007.

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