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Voices Israel Anthology 2020 - Book Review

Poetry from Israel & Abroad, Vol. 46

Published by Voices of Israel, 2020

Soft cover; 155 pages

Purchase from; NIS 50 for non-members, $25 for outside Israel incl. shipping

With the emergence of Modern Poetry, there has been an unleashing of poetic form that runs the gamut from traditional poems containing meter and rhyme to performance poetry which incorporates video recording of active manipulation of words to convey a sense of meaning or emotion. For those of us who are intrigued by the potential of poetry to reach the soul using language, imagery, and metaphor, keeping up with times and changing fashions can be challenging.

It is within this context that I have only praise for the recently published anthology Voices Israel: Poetry from Israel & Abroad. Somehow, the editors have succeeded in putting together a collection of 69 poems by 43 poets which are profound but readable, touching, yet soothing, Jewish, yet universal.

The opening poem, consisting of 12 lines and 38 words, was selected as evoking some of the sentiments associated with the current Corona lockdowns, and it expresses it with evocative understatement. The volume also contains poems dealing with the Holocaust, with the disruptions of Technology, with the End of Life, and so much more.

The poets included are from Israel, the United States, Canada, and Australia, yet, the one who most captured my attention was Yossi Faybish of Belgium. He was born in Romania, educated in Israel, and is currently living in Belgium. He is passionate about the Hi-Tech industry and yet, through the use of words and imagery, can refer to "melodious codes … feeding the fuel of life straight into my ears" in one poem, and to "one hundred fifty diesel horses between my legs" in another. In both pieces the reader is made aware through language of the clashing complexities of modern technology.

Helen Bar-Lev, in a tour-de-force, manages to survey the scope of modern painting describing "… the way Braque loved Cubism, Vemeer precision, and Cassat children….".

Ann Bar-Dov, in describing a sick friend, speculates "Perhaps, deep within him joyous life continues. Perhaps, the good grace of his sweet soul has finally found its quickening." Poems about loss are featured prominently and represent an array of poetic tones and styles focusing on loss without ever being maudlin or trite.

And finally, Michael Farry in describing an exhibition about Yeats writes, "…. chasing the alchemy of words and words and words."

Those last words sum up our fascination with poetic potential. To take words and use them to transform in our imaginations, the mundane into the exquisite, the familiar into the sublime and to share understandings and insights. The present volume Voices Israel succeeds in doing all that and doing it well.

The present volume, in addition to the anthology, contains the winning poems of both The Bar Sagi Prize for young poets and the Reuben Rose Competition Winners.

The volume is worth purchasing just to read the pieces of the young winners, aged 12 to 19.

I encourage anyone with an interest in poetry to visit their website at 



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