Tel Aviv Diary October 21-5, 2007- - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - October 26-30, 2007

October 26, 2007

Last night I dragged myself out of a recumbent position to go to Yael's book inauguration. I promised Ezi we would leave early so his back would not suffer too much, but both of knew it was an important occasion. And it was wonderful. Panic composed three poems of Yael - a completely different mood than they do for my poems - and incredibly moving. But it is Yael who moves even more. Here's an example:



The man who almost wasnít sits at the table
The woman who barely made it serves him plum cake.
This is my home. Itís good here. Secure.
Mother leans on Father. Father leans on shadow
At night they step into my room on tiptoe
dressed up as beekeepers, anoint my temples with wax.
We are a very warm family
The floor is burning under our feet.

We believe in walls. Believe less in a roof.
It has to be built each morning anew. We build.
In the medicine cabinet there is ammunition and in the bank a bribe for the guard
Who transports us, every night, over the border.
Silence is the tar stops the ruptures, seals the floor.
I hear something deep roar
The sea beneath the foundation of the house.


This home is full of love. Father is strong and Mother is good-looking.
Gershwin could have written a lullaby about us.
What good will this sadness do
Where will this sadness lead
Where will I put it when it comes
What will I feed it

I have been reading a lot of poetry written by second generationers in the U.S. where the need for finding out the facts and the suffering of the parents is dominant. But this is simple understatement, and right on the mark. She speaks for all of us who are children of survivors.

Needless to say, we stayed for the whole evening.

Speaking of children, here's a program from "Chef" Oren Alkalay cooking:
Town Mouse

I'm going to Pappa's tonight to try the Alfredo that I haven't tasted before.

We took the bike path to the beach today. This is actually the best time to go to the beach - the waters are calm, warm, and peaceful. But I had to save my breath to bike home. It was midday and there was a strong, beautiful sun.

"Why didn't you tell me you?" Lisa said at dinner last night when I mentioned it to an Italian eating his evening pizza at the bar that I was going to Rome for a book launching in December. "Forgot." I said, humbled by this new example of the enormity of my memory lapse. Yes. Heimat Editions is putting out Andrea Sirotti's translations of my more erotic poetry in December. The launch is at the Rome Book Fair in December.

unless the italians are like the israelis and it doesn't come out in time...

October 28, 2007

What an amazing opportunity - to hear the actress Hannah Meron read Raquel Halfi's poetry! She is someone I've admired for ages, in a myriad of roles. I think I first saw her in 'Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf' in 1965. And when she lost her leg in the plane hijacking I thought her acting days would be over. But she's still going strong.

It was a celebration for Raquel Halfi's latest book and Rona Kenan sang and Ronen Shapira and Eran Zur and a bunch of other very different kinds of composer singers. What amazes me most about this is the only place I know of where poetry is put to music. All the time.

The interesting thing is that the music has great respect for the words, follows the music of the poem, and doesn't wrench the poem out of shape to fit the music. I don't know if this happens any where else in the world.

October 29, 2007

It repeatedly strikes me that there is so much artistic talent in this country, talent of all ages, but with no help from public institutions, it can only reach a few people.

Even Sharon Moldavi's latest interview here mentions that he released his new album himself.

I have to admit I'm pretty impressed with the way Olmert is handling his prostate cancer. That may be the only thing he's done so far that impressed me.

October 30, 2007

I will never get over the ugliness of Israeli cemeteries. No grass, no room to stand and mourn between the graves, a few trees meagerly scattered around but no shade in the hot sun, and a tractor always working to make new room for more graves. There is just no comfort in our graveyards. Some of them seem to me to stink.

Poli, our wonderful comedian from Hagashash Hachiver, will be buried tomorrow in the cemetery of Einat - Because it is private it is well cared for and gentle. And it comforted me as I looked at the endless graves at Hayarkon cemetery that he will not be there.

I didn't go to the demonstration for the strike because of the memorial service I had to be at. Bracha Kopstein's son.

But I would have. A demonstration of students and educators for education. At last we are getting together on this simple truth. The big problems started when Bibi was PM and made some dumb slashes together with his Minister of Education. The slashes have continued and it has become like the story of Sholem Aleichem's horse. You remember, he was trying to teach the horse to eat less and less and might have even succeeded to teach him to exist on nothing but the horse died and ruined the experiment.

In a number of Druze villages I've visited there is no cellular reception - this is because the residents have torn down the antennas because they say they cause cancer. But apparently yesterday in Peikin it led to violence, and a lot of police and residents were injured. It just shows you how badly people understand each other around here and everything is a powder keg. And now Defence Minister Barak warns that we're heading toward a full scale operation in Gaza. Oy,

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