Tel Aviv Diary - June 4, 2013 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - June 4-8, 2013 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

June 4, 2013

it's time to admit that i have put too much on my plate, and i'm not doing a good job of balancing the plate of goulash soup on the lap of my white silk skirt. Here's a partial list:

June 5, Ezi's Birthday

June 9, Riva Rubin's book launch

June 11, Maghrar Poetry Festival

June 25, Orit's Birthday

June 26 Oren's Wedding

June 27 My retirement conference

June 28, Wedding celebration

June 29-30 Dead Sea with kiddies

July 1 Final Exam

July 7 New Book Reading - Tsomet Sfarim at the port at 7

In between there's the usual stuff, work, papers, writing, lectures, exams, dresses, invitations. That's why I let Ezi go to the hematologist alone this morning and stayed home to organize my stuff.

Of course that didn't happen. You know those sitcoms where neighbors keep opening the door and walking in? That's what my life is like here. In the old days I used to open the blinds of my balcony and ask my friend opposite how I am today. But only last year I asked my orthopedist how I'd get my x-rays to him and he said - "just hang them out of your bedroom window - i'll see them from my home." so it is now - Everybody is around. I'll have to find a quiet cafe to work in.

June 5, 2013

Do you remember where you were 46 years ago on this day? I was glued to the television in Rochester, New York, sure that Israel was going to be destroyed and all the inhabitants slaughtered.

Do you remember the threats? How everything seems to be inverted now .

June 6, 2013

What hot days - we never seem to get the idea of 'spring' right around here. It's either boiling or cool - so it averages out as spring temperature but each day is a surprise and maybe even a shock.

It is perhaps an accident that the shocking murder of people in a gay youth center four years ago was solved tonight on the eve of the Gay Pride Day in Tel Aviv, but no one fails to see the irony. The cause was revenge, not homophobia, but that seems to make it worse for many of us.

June 7, 2013

I did everything to avoid going to Tel Aviv today - support has a limit when there are so many errands to run. And I wasn't alone. I started in Herzlia outlet - they have the shoes for my big feet. But because it is incredibly hot and there is little shade and all they seem to have is winter stuff and junk, there were not that many people. But then I decided to try the Ramat Aviv mall, where, as soon as I realized how much weight I gained and how awful I look in any 'mother-of-the-bride outfit', I realized the place was full of t.v. personalities. The beautiful people from the little screen. Of course I ducked out after the sixth sighting.

p.s. Most of the male celebs were much shorter than I had imagined.

June 8, 2013

When I first began to admit that I was writing poetry in English in Israel, people began to send me to Riva Rubin. She was the queen of English poetry here. It was clear from reading her emotionally concise and tense words why she was so highly regarded. The direct stare into pain, love, loss, anger and love - the naked language bared from the niceties of every day use - became a personal weapon against the world and the self. This was the way I was using language at that time - talking to myself as sharply and harshly as I could. But Riva did it much much better - she was tougher on herself and on the world and knew much more about writing poetry than I did.

But together we began to talk to others - and somehow there was suddenly a group called "The Tel Aviv Poets," and there were broadsheets and readings and appreciative audiences. And then there were organizations, PEN, The Israel Association of Writers in English, and the Federation of Writers Unions, and Riva was everywhere - translating, mediating, organizing. And there was a children's book, poetry in Hebrew translation, and prose. Now her new book is of prose is out and we're celebrating it at my house tomorrow evening at 7. Write me at if you would like to join us and I'll send you the details.

Yoram Kaniuk passed away tonight. While Riva and I spoke on the phone about him being in the hospital.


This is the conference on June 26:

What Do We Talk About When We Talk About Poetry

9:00am until 4:00pm

Gilman 496

Tel Aviv University Schedule

9:00 - 9:15 Gathering

9:15 - 9:30 Opening Words: Prof. Shirley Sharon-Zisser

9:30 - 10:20 First Panel. Chair: Dr. Hedda Ben-Bassat

* Dr. Noam Reisner - "The Autumn of the Body: Yeats and the art of Growing Older"

* Ron Ben-Tovim - "War Taught Me Irony: Online Soldier Poetry as Lingual Prosthesis"

* Maya Alon - "The Collective and the Solitary: Elements of Unity and of Fragmentation in Jim Morrison's and Syd Barrett's Psychedelic Poetry"

10:30 - 11:20 Second Panel. Chair: Dr. Milette Shamir

* Avshalom Guissin - "Hybrid Hibernia: To find and define the Irish-American poetic voice"

* Nadja Rumjanceva - "Roots in the Air: Construction of Identity in Anglophone - Israeli Writing"

* Dr. Dara Barnat - "Poetry, Influence, and the Mentorship of Karen Alkalay-Gut"

11:20 - 12:00 Third Panel. Chair: Prof. Jerome Mandel

* Prof. Chanita Goodblatt - "Miracles and Darkness: Poetry and Sickness, on the poetry of Karen Alkalay-Gut and L.E. Sissman"

* Dr. Roi Tartakovsky - "The Poet Who Escaped from the Plot: Karen Alkalay-Gut's Research and Poetry"

12:00 - 13:30 Lunch Break

13:30 - 14:20 Poetry reading by Elaine Feinstein. Chair: Prof. Hana Wirth-Nesher

14:30 - 16:00 "חיה בשיר"

Readings of Karen Alkalay-Gut's poems

* Prof. Sasson Somekh

* Dr. Dara Barnat

* Rafi Weichert

* Raquel Chalfi

* Mordechai Geldman

* Amir Or

* Yael Globerman

* Shlomit Chava Halevy

* Prof. Joseph Rosenstein


Summary: Prof. Karen Alkalay-Gut

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