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

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 ...

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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.

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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.)
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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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Table of Contents

Part I (2000-2008)

Rypin 3

Hope 5

Hebrew Culture 9

Four Roadblocks 11

Sharon Resembles a Person 12

What's Spinoza? 13

The Moral Sense 15

The Reason to Live Here 17

Culture 19

To My Friend 20

Elections: Israel, 2001 22

Passover 24

Our Land 25

As We Were Marching 28

Please 29

2004 31

Ben Gurion Airport 32

Failure 33

2006 37

They Want Peace 38

Gaza: Two Poems 40

The Wall 42

Part II (1973-1986)

From Kibbutz

Education 47

From Begin 57

Part III (1986-1995)

From Love

1 "I'm a man who murdered love" 91

5 "From an infant I've turned" 101

6 "Within myself I've discovered an opening" 103

11 "You've impoverished me" 105

20 "I'm a love poet" 107

21 "This love, this addiction" 108

26 "My two hands compose poems" 109

vi "So long as I don't fuck you" 110

ix "A cow gives milk" 113

From Divorce

The car 118

"The last year of my marriage" 119

The Prayer Book 120

A Crown 121

The Door 122

From Ziva

"I'm Obliged to honor" 123

"Ziva" 124

"I pound my egghead" 125

From Metazivika

15 "My heart's so full of shit" 126

24 "Day after day" 128

28 "When you were twenty" 129

From The Heart

Consecration 130

"I've always missed out" 131

"If all the world were contained" 132

Happiness 133

Part IV (2007-2008)

Tanya's Walking Around 137

Clocks 138

My Heart's as Empty as this Pail 139

Happiness 140

Tanya's Crying 141

March 30, 2007 142

Mourning 143

Classified 144

Separation 145

I Just Wanted to Look at Tanya 146

Widower 147

Tanya Always Comes 148

Tanya's No More 149

The Truth 151

It's Good Without Tanya 152

Tanya Was Gorgeous 153

You'd Like to Know 154

Schiphol 155

The Man Who Listens 156

Afterword On Being a Poet: Some Notes for a Talk 161

Notes 169

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