February 2001Café Society's Poetry News Update: Jewish Poetry Special Feature
Do you have any poetry news or comments? If so, mail me on the email link at the bottom of this page. Competitions and calls for submissions can be announced here free.

Israeli Poet Amir Or:
A Conversation About Language, Myth, and the Soul
by Lynn Levin

Israeli poet Amir Or was born in 1956 in Tel Aviv and is the author of six collections of poetry: I Look Through the Monkeys' Eyes (Ani Mabbit Me'einey Hakkofim, 1987), Faces (Panim 1991), Ransoming the Dead (Pidyon Hammet 1994), So! (Kakha 1995), Poem (Shir 1996), and Day (Yom 1998). His new book "The Song of Tahira" - a pseudo translation of an epic in metered prose is about to be published now (2001). Or, who in addition to his academic career has worked as a shepherd, a builder, and a restauranteur, has received a number of Israeli literary awards, among them, the Prime Minister's Award for poetry in 1996 and the Mordechai Bernstein Prize, awarded by the Israeli Publishers' Association in 1995. Currently director and editor-in-chief of the Hebrew poetry journal Helicon, Amir Or is also the co-founder of the Helicon Society for the Advancement of Poetry in Israel. "Amir Or constructs a speech unheard in Hebrew poetry since the poet Yonatan Ratosh," observed Israeli critic Ariel Hirschfeld. "It is a 'mythological speech' stemming from an all-embracing Romantic approach. Amir Or creates an elevated ceremonial tone which draws heavily on ancient texts -- Jewish, Greek, and Eastern, mainly Indian -- in a surprising synthesis with current Hebrew speech." Of his collection Ransoming the Dead, critic Miryam Yahil-Wax remarked, "Amir Or is a Hebrew poet more than a Jewish one. He is familiar with the great Western tradition and conducts through that tradition an ongoing dialogue with contemporary Israel. Ransoming the Dead is wise, attractive, and provoking." Amir Or studied philosophy and comparative religion at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and lectured there on ancient Greek religion. In addition to publishing many essays on literature, theology, and the classics, Or has translated works from Greek, Latin, English, and other languages into Hebrew. Among his translations are The Gospel of Thomas (1992), Limb-Loosening Desire: An Anthology of Erotic Greek Poetry (1993), and Stories from the Mahabharata (1998). Amir Or's poetry has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies in Arabic, German, French, Spanish, Slovene, Russian, Polish, Armenian, Korean and Japanese translations. English translations of his work have been published the British journal Modern Poetry in Translation, the Canadian journal Descant, the American journal Poetry International, and Trafika, an English-language literary review published in the Czech Republic. A collection of his poetry in Arabic, Poetry Is a Criminal Girl, was published in 1995 ["Faradis", Paris], Miracle, a volume of his poems in English translation was published in Ireland in 1998 by Poetry Ireland, and a book in Macedonian translation, Drowning He Breaths Living Water, was published in 2000 by the SPE poetry festival. His collection, Poem, is currently under consideration by a number of American publishers. This interview took place in September of 1999 at the Vilenica International Literary Conference in Slovenia.

Lynn Levin:Your poems, especially poems like "Innocent" and "Wise," appear to be mystic investigations of knowledge. They seem predicated on ideas of pre-existing forces and a wisdom with which human beings intensely desire to connect. Is this correct? Can you speak to this?

Amir Or: It's correct for some of my poems, like the ones you mentioned. My late work is basically such as you described. You can call it a mystical research. But I don't really enjoy using this word. I think it's more a type of existential research. If we really want to understand where we are, why we are, and what our purpose is, you have to talk about a lifetime research. It's the most exciting research we can do as humans and as poets.

Lynn Levin:What is your opinion of such mystic systems as gnosticism and kabbalism?

Amir Or:Well, Gnosticism is at the roots of Kabbalism, in a way, plus Neoplatonism and many generations of Jewish thought. I'm interested, yes, but I'm interested in Kabbalism as much as I'm interested in Buddhism, Hinduism, Neoplatonism, et cetera. I think you get something from each of them, and you have to find out what is truly relevant for you. If you look at a Zen Buddhist, he walks in the desert. If you look at a Tantric, he walks in a jungle. And you have to know who you are to know your way. Nobody can teach you that but of course you can profit from anything that goes deep in the soul and talks about that search, and if you feel an affinity with other people who seek.

Lynn Levin:Do you believe in the immortality of the soul?

Amir Or:Yes, I do. I think we are not newcomers here. I don't think it all ends with the decaying of the body.

Lynn Levin:Your poems seem to combine Hellenic imagery and Biblical imagery. Can you talk about the role of myth in your writing?

Amir Or:I have been very interested in myth ever since childhood, and this interest carried over into my poetry and my academic career. I taught comparative religion at Hebrew University. But it's very different, of course, because once myth goes into your imagery it becomes alive. It becomes a reality for you. Actually what is reality? We have different forms of reality in our minds, like stations on a radio. One station is called the facts of wakefulness. But it's not less real when you dream. It's not less real when you go inside yourself. It's only more rare.

Lynn Levin:What are some of the issues you struggle with in your poetry, the thematic and poetic issues?

Amir Or:This goes together, I think. Each theme decides the style. If I want to write love poetry I probably use a different style than when I write a more existential or philosophical poem. So the question is both thematic and poetical, always. I may use free verse, a sonnet, or even Hebrew poetic forms of medieval Spain. For example, my last book, Day, is divided into chapters named after the Jewish prayers. In the chapter Kiddush I made use of the medieval forms of prayers over wine, and in the chapter Tikkun I had in mind the Yom Kippur prayers. Forms are not merely forms, but modes and poetic containers that preserve human thoughts, feelings, culture. The themes of my poetry vary and naturally changed through life. I guess I always had a special interest in religion, myth, and historical memory. I was also concerned quite often with the experience of human relationships--love, family, separation, sex, social justice, and so on. I think these themes as poetic themes are universal. Themes evolve from human experience and therefore cannot be truly unique. What is sometimes unique is the way a poet thinks, feels, and writes about human experience.

Lynn Levin:When and why did you start to write poetry?

Amir Or:The answer is a bit funny. Actually I composed poetry before I knew how to write. Little poems about my teddy bear and so on that my mom used to write down. So poetry was always there as far back as I can remember.

Lynn Levin:Which poets have influenced you?

Amir Or:Well, it's not a direct influence. But poets who inspired me a lot? First of all the classics--the Greek, Latin, and Indian poetry. I was very interested in the epics and Greek poetry which I translated into Hebrew. I studied ancient Greek because I was so inspired by the literature. To be an editor one must have rather pluralistic tastes to start with, and I am no exception. But when you talk about inspiration it's different. Of course, I am inspired first of all by Hebrew poetry, from the Bible up to modern times. I would mention along this line Israeli poets like Nathan Alterman, Yonatan Ratosh, Shaul Tshernikhovski, and Uri Tzvi Grinberg. I don't always agree with them, but I admire their style and way of talking.

Lynn Levin:What about some of your favorite non-Israeli poets?

Amir Or:To make a brief list, the names that come to mind are Homer, Sappho, Pindar, Jalaludin Rumi, Basho, Riyokan, John Donne, Byron, Rilke, Pound, Eliot, Milosz, Ramanujan, and Kuzmin. But in the last two years I especially enjoy going back to the epics and to mythical and religious poetry, such as the Iliad, the Mahabharata, the Rigveda, and the Persian Gatha.

Lynn Levin:How has your work changed and evolved over the years?

Amir Or:It evolved with my age, you could say. When I was younger there was a lot of love poetry. There was a lot about politics, not foreign politics, but politics of the genders, of the family, of sex. Later I was interested in social things. At that time I wrote So!, a book that has different speakers - a policeman, a prostitute, an SS officer. After that my poetry moved towards what you might call "metaphysical" themes. These areas interested me long before I actually wrote about them extensively, but you see, there is a stage when it comes into the poetry and suddenly it is possible for you to express and create and think through the poetry. For me poetry is really a path. A way to grow. So when these metaphysical ideas began to enter my work I was happy because I not only found a way to express past thoughts, but actually found through my poetry a new route toward their understanding. That's where I am now.

Editor's note:Many thanks to both Lynn Levin and Amir Or for this interview.

LYNN LEVINis the author of one collection of poetry, A Few Questions About Paradise (Bemidji, Minnesota: Loonfeather Press, 2000) and a chapbook of translations of poems by the contemporary Albanian poet and writer, Besnik Mustafaj (Chattanooga, Tennessee, PM Publications Chapbooks, 2001). She teaches at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The Poetry of Amir Or

© Amir Or
Translated from the Hebrew by Tsipi Keller

The perfect murder has no reasons, he said,
the perfect murder needs only a perfect object,
as it was in Auschwitz.
Not the crematoria, of course, but as it was
afrerwards, outside working hours.
And he fell silent
looking at the froth on the beer
and taking a sip.
The perfect murder is love, he said.
The perfect murder doesn't require anything perfect
except giving
as much as you can.
Even the memuory of gripping the throat
is eternal. Even the howls that rocked my hand,
even the piss that fell like grace on cold flesh,
even the heel that awakens another eternity,
even the silence, he said,
looking at the froth.
True, a decent job
frees a lot, but
a perfect murder doesn't lose
a drop,
like the lips of a child, he explained,
like sand and froth,
like you
sipping and listening.

© Amir Or
Translation: Irit Sela

I look through the monkeys’ eyes,
as they play with my skull in the treetops.
I’m lifted with the eagle as he flies
because my entrails are in his;
in the belly of the earth
I crawl with worms
who ate my eyes out of my sockets;
I am green, I grow in the grass
That my rotting flesh makes rich.

O my body
How you have grown!

© Amir Or
Translation: Vivian Eden

It was not in vain that we awaited the barbarians,
it was not in vain that we gathered in the city square.
It was not in vain that our great ones donned their official robes
and rehearsed their speeches for the event.
It was not in vain that we smashed our temples
and erected new ones to their gods;
as proper we burnt our books
that have nothing in them for people like that.
As the prophesy foretold the barbarians came,
and took the keys to the city from the king’s hand.
But when they came they donned the garments of the land,
and their customs were the customs of the state;
and when they commanded us in our own tongue
we no longer knew when
the barbarians had come to us.

© Amir Or
Translation: Vivian Eden

O walker, leave the path a while,
sit among the berry trees and vines,
water and trees and stone so white.
Here I, a boy and king, do lie.

My face cold marble, my hands, my feet.
I am dressed in ferns and fallen leaves.
I too never went far afield
I too once lived and breathed.

O walker, leave the path a space,
crush wild berries on my face.

Click HERE for the long version of Poem by Amir Or, at motherbird.com


Dear Poets,

This issue features an interview with Amir Or, the eminent Jewish poet and founder of the Helicon Society for the Advancement of Poetry in Israel. His work appeared in the January 2001 Featured Poets section. The special guest interviewer is Lynn Levin, the author of the poetry collection A Few Questions About Paradise (Bemidji, Minnesota: Loonfeather Press, 2000) and a chapbook of translations of poems by the contemporary Albanian poet and writer, Besnik Mustafaj (Chattanooga, Tennessee, PM Publications Chapbooks, 2001). She teaches at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Featured poets this month include Elisha Porat, Lyn Lifshin, Yehiel Hazak, Chibi and Rick Lupert.

Any comments on this issue or back issues can be emailed to me on the link at the bottom of the page. Please indicate whether you would like such comments to be included in the Letters section. Announcements are always welcome, you can also promote poetry books here.

Any poetry submissions should be in plain text in the body of an email, with a small jpeg picture attached, also a bio, preferably with the URLs of any ezines mentioned, so that they can be shown as links. This will increase chances of inclusion, especially if a submission is sent late in the month, as it saves me time to get a picture and bio at the same time. Pictures are best at a maximum of 520 pixels across, otherwise they take ages to arrive by email, especially if they are in bitmap or TIFF format. Further submission guidelines are available on request.

Do any of you find yourselves facing the new year in the middle of a mid-life crisis? Are a lot of your friends full of the responsibility of marriage, parenthood, etc., while you still want to party? Do your children - and even your pets seem to be embarrassed to be seen with you? Write a poem about this subject and I'll have a themed Featured Poets section for it, later this year. The wittiest one will win a prize.

Best Regards,


Featured poets this month include Elisha Porat, Lyn Lifshin, Yehiel Hazak, Chibi and Rick Lupert. Many thanks to all contributors.

Elisha Porat
picture used with permission

the 1996 winner of Israel's Prime Minister's Prize for Literature, has published 17 volumes of fiction and poetry, in Hebrew, since 1973. His works have appeared in translation in Israel, the United States, Canada and England. The English translation of his short story collection "The Messiah of LaGuardia", was released in 1997. His latest work, a book of Hebrew poetry, "The Dinosaurs of the Language", was recently published in Israel. He was born in 1938 to a "pioneer" family in Palestine-Eretz Yisrael (pre Israel); his parents were among the founders of Kibbutz Ein Hahoresh, a Kibbutz on the Sharon plates near the city of Hadera. Today Porat, devoted to the community ideal, still make his home near the original tent erected by his parents back in the early 30s. In 1956 Porat was draft into the IDF (the Israeli army) and fought in three wars: the Six Day War in 1967, the Yom Kippur War in 1973, and the War of south Lebanon in 1982. Short anthologies from the author's works: Ariga:4 poems by Elisha Porat
poems and short stories.

Unlikely Stories: Elisha Porat feature
poems, fiction, interview, reviews.

The Poet's Haven: Elisha Porat
poems, fiction - scroll down to P for Porat

Funky Dog Publishing: Elisha Porat collection of poems.

© Elisha Porat
Translated by Ward Kelley with the author.

The path to Nabbatiya is truly unpleasant,
even for veteran soldiers such as myself
who, as you know, "are not killed,
but simply vaporize . . ."

I try to bring a quick smile to the lips
of my escort rangers crew, "What do
we really have to lose?" I ask them,

"we'll go back home, and what good things
are waiting there for us -- boring work,
heart attacks, accidents? But here,
you'll be gone in a minute, all at once,
and you won't even know where the bullet
comes from, the one that rids you of all
your troubles . . .

then you'll be granted a charity,
because you'll finish your life
in 'dignity,' as a brave soldier;
soon you'll be posted in the newspapers,
even the weakest of you who never would
have been absolved -- not for a single word --
in your entire life.

And the principal charity?
You'll remain young forever,
for generations upon generations,
for eternity, and no one can take
this from you."

Then suddenly, unheedingly,
the joke transforms into an unexpected
seriousness . . . the curvature
of the narrow path becomes sharp;
dark, little bridges appear from nowhere,
as the rocks aside the road draw near
with a frightening closeness,
and the dark, green wood
appears suspicious.

© Elisha Porat
Translated by Ward Kelley with the author.

Who was born like me, in 1938,
Who looked for partners in his trip through life;
What other baby was conveyed home on the floor
Of an armored bus, while his young mother
Knelt over him, sheltering;
Or who else became a tourist
crossing over alien lands
his whole life but leaving
behind his shuddering
heart, flapping back there,
still in the military mobile hospital?

Always I remind myself:
We were only one year old when
The fate of our world was molded and altered
by a bloodbath, and our first words --
Compressed words, bad words -- became
Precisely the ancient amulet.

© Elisha Porat
Translated from the Hebrew by Asher Harris

Golden koalas dance there
In the heights of the treetops, leaping in front of me
And offering me their honey in flower-bowls:
The sweetness of eucalyptus, dlicate and smoky,
And rosin that gives off the sharp scent of myrtle.
They salute me in their slothful idleness,
Hanging like memories in the thick wood
That darkens before me, sundered out of my years.
As if they know that I am hurrying now
To the town railway station, to
The renovated platform, to part from my dear ones:
My beloved; my life; at the edge of the wood, opposite
The dunes of Hadera West station.

© Elisha Porat
Translated from the Hebrew by Asher Harris

Salamanders cross the northern
road. Slow and indifferent they
crawl towards the fence. I brake
suddenley, stop the patrol. In the valleys
and in the fields everything suddenly falls silent:
a poisonous orange color, black tail
stripes, but their radiance darkens
the morning light. On guard, helmets,
I order. But neither flak jackets
nor chin armour are any use
any more: in the bright orange that suddenly
explodes, I see them, withdrawing lazily, innocent,
oh, so innocent, as if they didn't bear
on their backs intimations of their warning.

(c) All Rights Reserved.

[email protected]

Lyn Lifshin

has written more than 100 books and edited 4 anthologies of women writers. Her poems have appeared in most poetry and literary magazines in the U.S.A., and her work has been included in virtually every major anthology of recent writing by women. She has given more than 700 readings across the U.S.A. and has appeared at Dartmouth and Skidmore colleges, Cornell University, the Shakespeare Library, Whitney Museum, and Huntington Library. Lyn has also taught poetry and prose writing for many years at universities, colleges and high schools, and has been Poet in Residence at the University of Rochester, Antioch, and Colorado Mountain College. Her numerous awards include the Jack Kerouac Award for her book Kiss The Skin Off, Lyn is the subject of the documentary film Lyn Lifshin: Not Made of Glass. Her collection BRUISED VELVET was published in 1999. Recently her book COLD COMFORT went into reprint due to popular demand.

For her absolute dedication to the small presses which first published her, and for managing to survive on her own apart from any major publishing house or academic institution, Lifshin has earned the distinction "Queen of the Small Presses." She has been praised by Robert Frost, Ken Kesey and Richard Eberhart, and Ed Sanders has seen her as "a modern Emily Dickinson."

Poems from Cold Comfort

© Lyn Lifshin

My mother and sister
near an old black seventies
Chevy. My sister in a
nest between my mother's
arms. You can just see
certain parts of my mother,
like a branch in a back drop.
I'm in several with
her, standing in back, her
arms around me, her prize
melon, a book just she
would write. I remember
the rabbi said enjoy
your wedding, after that
it will be your husband
and your child. I've
noticed this in several
other photos of mothers
with their girls, the
daughter held up close in
front like someone with
a desperate sign, words
pointing west or saying
Hartford. The daughter
almost blots the mother
out. It's as if there
was some huge dark hole
only a camera would pick
up where something that
had got away had been

© Lyn Lifshin

something to get
her teeth in,
forget the shakes
cancer patients
are supposed to
choose, forget
tapioca pudding
vanilla ice
she wants what is
full of blood
something to
chew to get the
red color out of,
something she can
attack fiercely.
My mother who never
was namby pamby
never held her
tongue never didn't
attack or answer
back, worry about
angering or hurting
anybody but said
what she felt
and wouldn't
walk any tight
rope, refuses the
pale and delicate
for what's blood,
what she can
chew even spit
out if she
needs to

© Lyn Lifshin:
The daughter I don't have

jolts up in the
middle of the night
to curl closer than
skin, pink tongued
in a flannel dress
I wore once in some
story. I part her
hair, braid her
to me as if to
keep what I can't
close, like hair
wreathes under
glass in New
England. Or maybe
pull the hair into
a twist above the
nape of her neck,
kiss what's exposed
so wildly part of
her stays with me

[email protected]

Yehiel Hazak

was born in 1936, in Kibbutz Afiqim, Jordan valley, near the town of Tiberia, on lake Kinneret (the sea of Galilee) shore.

Yehiel, an Hebrew poet, has published more than a dozen volumes of Hebrew poetry, and currently teaches Hebrew literature at a college in Tel Aviv area.

His original poetry is distinguishable with the "Israeli native poetry" elements, and has been translated into English, and published in many literary stages.

* Many thanks to Elisha Porat for telling me about Yehiel's work, and sending me his picture.

© Yehiel Hazak
translated from the Hebrew by Tama Hazak

Life-sated rage-sated fear-sated
Still standing erect, a "turia" beside him
Calling the trees by their names and no reply.
Even they. What should he do. He'll tear a couch-grass
And wave it as his last flag and start
Counting. Maybe
A Russian curse would help. He used to seek
Other names for God. They'd dried up in his mouth before
He spat them to the ground.
Maybe he loved them as manure because of the smell.
Later he curses, already dried dung, slowly became
Road marks. What road. Was there one or not, he tried to walk
Till he stopped burned-out on the spot
Life-sated rage-sated fear-
Sated, by the "turia" building himself like a tomb stone
For himself and for the road which fiiled his mouth
Because of what

translator's note: turia is a kind of Israeli mattock.

© Yehiel Hazak
translated from the Hebrew by Tama Hazak

What had flamed up in a leaping swiftness was slowly extinguished by morning
And almost forgotten
Since then I live at a shout's distance from the village navel.

And the shout moves on tracks there and back like the law of nature
And its magnet from one night to another,
Leaving lashes of flesh and blood on the blazing iron
By and by I shrivel to the size of a shout, I even
Want to be a bird and fly or
Be a seaman of songs
And I stay -
The same tracks
No more lessons no more speeches
Only a shout lost in all the distances of the wind
That morning flamed up when I was born
In that village now at the distance
Of a shout.

© Yehiel Hazak
translated from the Hebrew by Jaffa Weisman

Ask them to return,
Cousins, children to one father are we
Ask them to return, praying thinly
Whispering the earthbound sounds, beg
Them to come back. A day shall come when
Words of prayer will be cherished, whispered
Loudly called again to come,
Return to the mountains, houses, fields,
Engulfing voices calling to return,
And none but screams shall be their boundaries
Nor shall the sea be their last hold, it's
Waves still silencing the voices shouting
To return, shackled, chains of soldiers
Marching into brithers' wars on fathers'
Earth that swallow all.

Beloved lands were called by men and women not to run,
Do not run too fast, don't rush, the place is burning,
And my mother's voice like tunnels calling back her cubs
Into her flameless earth, becoming
Burning ashes,
While winds go round themselves and silence's scepter
Is upon us, and till we freeze where called upon
Inside the circle
And we die
Like Philistines in temples
Beloved lands to say.

(Dennis Holmes, also known as Simple Sigh Man) says:
"I was born in the Mississippi Delta (not on any map as such... but the folks born there know where the music come from). I've been writing since I was an early teen (thought to impress my first love... unsucessfully... alas). Now... happily married to my soulmate for 27 years (call me a liar or a fool but tis true) we have two growing sons and a cantankerous quantum cat that share our wood surrounded sub-urban house in the corner of northwest Georgia. At mid-life crisis now... overtaken by my dormant muse... I churn out poetry... and smile... and smile... and smile. As for the fall-dee-rall about publising here and there and e-books and etc... well... published in the fall 2000 edition of The Old Red Kimono at the request of my wife, founded two internet poetry clubs on yahoo: Esrevinu (poetry specific to amateur astronomy, another passion) and Nesrevinu (eclectic collection of poetry), named "poet of the month" for June 2000 at the poetry website, Cafe' Poetry (touting over a 1000 members), published August 2000 on "Bay Review" an internet magazine, published two poetry e-books with the e-publisher, Mightywords.com, "Poems After" and "The Impeccably Mundane, Part 1" (April 2000 and August 2000, respectively).

I am keenly interested in e-books and e-publishing/distributing and support this new technology passionately. I sometimes read at a local resturant/deli "Schroeders", located on Main street in Rome, Georgia... but... there is just too darn much smokey angst for me there... so I am going to start free-readings in the park by the river starting this spring. "

Chibi's e-books are currently only available directly through him. "Poems After" is $4 and "The Impeccably Mundane, Part 1" is $6... sent as a download in Word. Click his email link at the end of his poems for details.

© Chibi

Searing sleek and stealthy sharp
The shrike swoops to its mark
Motion blurred raptor swift

Its trophy perhaps only a taste
But the act is its passion
Its compelled disposition

Death's angel our notion
Its beauty and truth fits
And is beyond our fathom

© chibi

Spanish moss tatters
Miasmic denizen swim
Cupped in tannic tea

© chibi

if no matter the length i probe the edge of thought
the two sides of a foam wedged bubble remain my only
within my mind i still retain spiraling to infinite
paradoxically unique familiar points
(but never the same)

on the inside as i traverse from tangential point
directly opposite perpendicular to the point i now
displace in time to know i have never been there
before but will be there again the next time even
though a different place

my bubble bounced and shoved and sloshed crowded in
the emptying cooling expanding space of constant time
a sliver of a whisker changes my choices to but one
releasing my thought to crawl on n-dimensional
surfaces to a corner of the cosmos compressing the
universe I know to the period now in place.

Chibi levitating

© chibi
(inspired by "Cherish Who You Are" by ajoylyn... thanks)

Our faces map in wrinkles of skin
Directions taken from the time we begin
In bold dark crease and thin light line
Some deep, some delicate and fine
Often taken trail to light footpath
Choices we made between anger's wrath
And kindnesses gentle curving guide
Shows the one face we cannot hide

(age is everyones cartographer)

[email protected]

Rick Lupert

Rick Lupert has been involved in the Los Angeles poetry community since 1990. He served for two years as a co-director of the Valley Contemporary Poets, a twenty year old non-profit organization which produces regular reading series and publications out of the San Fernando Valley. His poetry has appeared in numerous magazines and literary journals, including The Los Angeles Times, Chiron Review, Zuzu's Petals, Caffeine Magazine, Blue Satellite and others. He is the author of six books. Paris: It's The Cheese, I Am My Own Orange County (Ain't Got No press), Lizard King of the Laundromat (Inevitable Press), Mowing Fargo (Sacred Beverage Press), I'm a Jew, Are You?, and Feeding Holy Cats (Cassowary Press) He has hosted the long running Cobalt Cafe reading series for six years now and is regularly featured at venues throughout Southern California.

Rick created and maintains the Poetry Super Highway, a major Internet resource for online poets.

Currently Rick works as a music teacher at Temple Ahavat Shalom in Northridge and the North Valley Jewish Community Center in Granada Hills, as well as at Hillel of Pierce and Valley Colleges as the Program Director.

© Rick Lupert

I am in the airport
I am on the plane

I am in the air
I am drinking water

Water is leaking from the roof of the plane
that doesn't seem right

I have four shequels in my pocket
I am thirty one thousand feet and climbing

It is a different time everywhere
The girl next to me laughs like a Canadian living in the Dakotas

I am duty free
I am salute the other passengers

I am still climbing
I am eighteen hours away

I am gone from Holy Land
I am hands smell like banana

I am leave guitar on Tarmac
I am in flight movie

I am eat
I am sleep

I am fly, fly, fly

© Rick Lupert

Put music on in a room full of Jews
and the circles will form.
It's in the blood, Yemenite steps, the Hora.
Sure as pickles at a deli,
someone's lifted in a chair,
paraded around,
like it's their wedding,
which it is
every week,
if you listen to the mystics.

And the food,
Like Leopards to the Gazelle,
Jews leap to the dimsum,
tray after tray of something stuffed in pastry
disappears like a North American
indigenous people

And we survive.
Plump, hirsute, guilty.
So strum the minor chords,
shake out your winter boot.
We're hungry and
It's time to dance.

© Rick Lupert

Walking through Arab village
Family invites us in for Orange Soda
mixed nuts and conversation
We only have twenty minutes
which is enough
to talk about football
North Carolina
and how they feel like second class citizens
They have beautiful couches
and children
more of both on the way
peace now
peace now

© Rick Lupert

Ten shequels solves the problem
of the broken glass candle holder
in the Jerusalem boutique
I am warned about gravity
and instructed to never touch

They should play harps
instead of using Prozac
says the woman at the Biblical Harp Store
I suppose at the Prozac store
they don't speak too highly of Biblical Harps either

Lupert: It's The Website - & - Poetry Super Highway

[email protected]

and a chance to get work published...

There is still time to enter.

...Click on the Dogwood Link for further details !


POETHEADS and AMP PUBLICATIONS have come together to bring you Austin's Magazine of Progressive Arts (AMP Arts), a new cutting edge literary journal.

We seek diverse mediums to mold this new outlet for artistic expression. Therefore, AMP Publications and Poetheads are hosting a prose and poetry contest. $1050 in prizes plus publication. Fiction: Maximum 2000 words. $10 per entry.  Poetry: Maximum 60 lines.  $10 entry for up to 3 poems; $4 each additional poem.

Guidelines: send SASE to:
AMP Publications, PO Box 12355 Austin, TX 78711 or
FMI: [email protected]

Courtney O'Banion

The Jan/Feb edition of Friction Magazine is now online.

We have all-new material in every category. My thanks to everyone who submitted. The selection process, as always, was difficult. We said no to a lot of good material.

Work is still underway on the print edition. It is our hope to have it ready in time for the benefit this weekend.

Which brings me to the benefit this weekend. If you're anywhere near Kansas City, show your support of Friction Magazine by coming to The Midtown School of Dance this Saturday, January 27th. From 7:30 to 9:00 we'll be playing "everybody's favorite songs." From 9:00 to 11:00 we'll have the Midtown Poetry Slam, an audience-judged poetry-performance competition. Then from 11:00 to 1:00 we'll have live music from the sleazebeats. We're asking for $5 at the door. All ages are welcome, although it probably wouldn't be a good scene for a 12-year old. There will be a cash bar inside for those 21 and over.

If you're nowhere near Kansas City, you can show your support by ordering copies of Friction Magazine's Print edition when it becomes available. We'll be offering both physical copies which we will ship to you, or electronic copies in PDF format that you can download. I'll relay more details on how to order copies when they become available.

We've been advertising locally that the first hour of the benefit would feature "everybody's favorite songs." In an effort to keep that promise, I'd like our readers to respond to this message with the Artist and Title of songs you think we should play during the first hour and 1/2 of the benefit. Keep your requests/votes down to NO MORE than 5 songs. You do not have to plan on attending the benefit to participate. We'll select the top 15 requested songs. Since there will probably be numerous songs with only one vote, ties will be decided by the editorial board.

The Poetry Slam, this time, will be hosted by Patrick Dobson, and is an excellent opportunity for area slammers to go head to head with the poets on the Friction Staff, including myself, Allen Heinrich, our poetry editor, and Jeanette Heinrich, our arts editor. Slamming, I think, is about my favorite thing in the world to do. No, wait. Second favorite.

I'd like to thank all of our readers for their continued support as we celebrate the end of our first year online. (proffering a toast) Here's to you.

Until next time, I'll see you between the lines.

Sincerely yours
(from under the floor),

William Peck, Publisher/Webmaster
Friction Magazine - a journal of writers and artsts

Announcing a new book by Israeli Poet Moshe Benarroch:

You Walk On The Land Until One Day The Land Walks On You

 A Jewish dream 
© Moshe Benarroch

I dreamt an atomic bomb fell in Tel Aviv
and there was of course a big mess and many dead
and then people discovered that the Jews
are not sensitive to radioactivity
because of circumcision
and because it is done on the eighth day
and not after months or years
and then everybody understood that Abraham was a genius
and a great expert of nuclear physics.
MOSHE BENARROCH is the author of two poetry collections "HORSES AND OTHER DOUBTS" (pictured left) (http://www.iuniverse.com). He is also the author of 6 books in Hebrew and one in Spanish "ESQUINA EN TETUAN" (available online from http://www.licer.com and http://www.casadellibro.com)

His new book "YOU WALK ON THE LAND UNTIL ONE DAY THE LAND WALKS ON YOU" (http://www.xlibris.com) is available from amazon.com, amazon.co.uk, amazon.fr, borders, barnes and noble and buy.com

I really liked the Poetry Life and Times April 2000 Interview with Ward Kelley. He spoke much truth to me.

[email protected]

I just discovered your site this evening, and am already sending some haiku for your consideration. The William Peck stuff was great and it is nice to learn about one of the best ezine editors there is. Friction published some of my work recently-
is the link.

It was also great to read your featured poets, and some news from A Small Garlic Press (one of my favorite small presses- I'm going to buy their latest publication), among others. I have book marked CAFE SOCIETY and I hope other readers and writers will also.


Marc Awodey
Burlington, Vermont

THE PERILS OF NORRIS cartoon, #2 of new story
FREE COMPETITION! Spot Reginald The Rat in the cartoon below, and win a prize.
Simply email me on [email protected] to say where he is.
If yours is the first correct answer, you win.

The Perils of Norris was started in August 2000. To catch up on the episode before this new one, see the back issue link for the January 2001 issue. Otherwise click the links for back issues, bottom of page, starting with August 2000. If an editor from another poetry ezine would like to run this cartoon on a regular basis, email me first to ask - it can be used in exchange for a link to Poetry Life & Times.

September 1998

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November 1998

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January 1999

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January 2000

February 2000

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April 2000

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August 2000

September 2000

October 2000

November 2000

December 2000

January 2001

Mail me on: [email protected] with any poems, comments for the letters page, news about your poetry site, or forthcoming poetry events. Please get Featured Poets submissions in as early as possible each month. This gives you more of a chance to get into the next issue, rather than waiting for two months. Send up to 10 poems to give a broad idea of the kind of poetry you write, on different subjects.

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