Poets and poetry

Spring Reading - Jerusalem, May 2009
Winter Reading -  Ramat Gan, February, 2010 

Spring Reading -  Jerusalem, June 2010

Spring Reading  -
Bar-Ilan alumni and student poets, as well as
guest poets from Tel Aviv University: 
                             Ben Niran
                  Danielle Zilberberg
Tammara Or Slilat was born in Tel Aviv, lives in Moshav Arbel and

teaches high school English. She has published poems in various

e-zines and literary magazines such as "Kav Natui", "Mashiv Haruach", "Iton 77", "Shdemot", "Glittering Train", "The Potpourri." Her two books of published poems

Her two books of published poems are "Children are made of Dream Stuff", 1991 and "Only Love Can," 1994.


She is also an active painter and has participated in many group exhibitions.


Still Life with Pomegranates


Be still, watch:

Crimson and cadmium red

pomegranates set against

cascading ivory cloth, an old bottle

of wine in phtalocynine emerald green

and a leafy bough to bring the diagonal

uplifting energy to the composition.


We're so used to seeing that we've stopped

looking. This is what I want you to do:

forget everything you know, everything

you believe to be

true. Knowing depends

on the point of  Perception: change that

and you've changed the world.


When you put your brush to the canvas

focus not on what is

there, but rather on what is not.

Objects are defined by the empty space

around them, just as people

are remembered not only

by their deeds, but also by what

they neglected, or forgot




Ruth Fogelman, a long-time resident of Jerusalem’s Old City, is the winner of the Reuben Rose Poetry Competition, 2006 and commended winner of the John Reid Traditional Poetry Competition, 2007. Ruth is author of Within the Walls of Jerusalem - A Personal Perspective. Her poems, articles, short stories and photography have appeared in anthologies and other

publications in Israel, the USA and India. Her first full poetry collection, Cradled in God’s Arms will be released this summer.


Ruth is a facilitator of the Pri Hadash Women’s Writing Workshop in Jerusalem and graduated the Creative Writing Program of Bar Ilan University, 2006.


Visit Ruth's website at 

Celebrating Domestic Virtues


He celebrates her domestic virtues

sprawled in his armchair;

he raises his mug of beer and chews.


She stands stirring a pot on the flame.

He celebrates, drink in hand,

as he turns on the soccer game.


She leaves the kitchen and throws another batch

of dirty socks and underwear in the washing machine.

He celebrates, at the edge of his chair to watch the match.


She goes out to the porch and begins

to hang up the towels, pillow cases, pants and shirts.

He celebrates by springing out of the chair when his team wins.


She walks into the room. Seeing him dance, the mug

still clutched in his hand, she wishes him a good night:

“I’m going to bed, honey, just watch that rug.”


He doesn’t hear. He’s busy celebrating.
Ira Director, the Chicago born poet and artist, lives in the small rural community of Kibbutz Gezer nestled near the foothills of the Judean Mountains where he writes, paints and sculpts. In addition to his poems appearing in numerous exhibitions as integral components of paintings,

they have been published in Israeli and foreign journals.


Traveling between America and the Middle East has added an element of diversity and a cross cultural perspective to the work.


In addition, he directs English Plus which provides international and local corporations with English language and communication training.



o        Stanza Tel Aviv, May 3

o        Poetry BIU Jerusalem,  May 17, 2009  


“About suffering they were never wrong, / The Old Masters…” This quote is from the first two line of a poem written in 1938 by W. H. Auden in which he describes the ancient Grecian myth of the Fall of Icarus from the perspective of uninvolved bystanders. He postulates that suffering is always accompanied by bystanders who are either unaware, unconcerned or simply too preoccupied with their own lives to become involved.


The “Old Masters” include Pieter Brueghel the Elder, whose 16th century painting “Landscape with the Fall of Icarus,” is described in the second stanza of Auden’s poem.


Landscape with the Fall of Icarus  by Pieter Brueghel

As Icarus sinks into the sea his legs are just barely showing in the bottom right corner of the painting.



The poem's French title “Musée des Beaux Arts” or “Museums of Fine Arts” is derived from Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, the Brussels museum which houses the painting.


Musée des Beaux Arts by W. H. Auden


About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters; how well, they understood
Its human position; how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.

In Breughel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.


Some years after Auden wrote this poem, William Carlos Williams wrote a poem titled "Landscape with the Fall of Icarus" about the same painting. William’s poem supports Auden’s and Brueghel’s thesis.

Landscape with the Fall of Icarus by William Carlos Williams

According to Brueghel
when Icarus fell
it was spring

a farmer was ploughing
his field
the whole pageantry

of the year was
awake tingling

the edge of the sea
with itself

sweating in the sun
that melted
the wings' wax

off the coast
there was

a splash quite unnoticed
this was
Icarus drowning

Sometimes I wonder. What would have happened if the bystanders could not have, as in Auden’s poem, “turn… away/ Quite leisurely from the disaster?” What would have happened if Icarus had, not fallen into the sea, but rather into someone’s backyard swimming pool or perhaps into the middle of a poem?


I sometimes think about what makes people become involved in, or remain distant from other peoples’ suffering. I wrote the following poem in an attempt to look more closely at this question.


Is there a doctor here?  by Ira Director          


I. the white haired woman’s pale face turned red


she slumped

dropped from the chair


the poet stopped           mid poem


her husband knelt in the hot sun crying

as people moved closer


I had the good sense     to move away

and get another piece of the apple cake

which I cut horizontally  to get a slice

filled with apple pieces      


after loading it

with homemade “tehena”  I took two bites


 “lucky I’ve already read”

embarrassed by my own thoughts    

I phoned Debbie “How terrible. Have you read yet?”


I stuffed the rest in my mouth

licked my drippy fingers

chewing slowly as I went back

hoping no one would notice


a doctor was administering CPR


a young teen was crying in the john

perhaps the old woman’s granddaughter


“she wasn’t even wearing a hat” I heard


II. later in the shade   

as the poets began reading again


I brought her an orange

then thought

as the ambulance drove her away


staying alive is mostly luck


what if that doctor

hadn’t wanted to hear

student poetry that day


III. that evening                over coffee

I realized

I was likely

the only other person

who “knew” CPR


so the old lady

had two chances today


though the doctor     probably

also saved me

from finishing this day

with a pair of dead lips

pressed to mine

as I tried desperately

to remember

the right steps

from that course

20 year ago

Guest poet from Tel Aviv University - Dara Barnat teaches poetry and creative writing in the Department of English and American Studies at Tel Aviv University, where she is also writing a doctorate. Her work has appeared in journals such as California Quarterly, Green Hills Literary Lantern, Crab Orchard Review, Plainsongs and Ibbetson St. Press. In addition, several of her poems were recently translated into Hebrew and published in Shvo. A collection of poetry entitled Headwind Migration was released by Pudding House Publications in early 2009.
 Visit her web site at http://darabarnat.googlepages.com/





Because love could not hold its body

last night I cooked with someone else.


I stood in your place and remembered

your back as you grated squash and nutmeg

to please me with fresh soup.


He bought a bottle of strong

balsamic vinegar from Italy

and we laughed at its long and phallic top.


I played the ghost of you

who once taught me so patiently

to cook garlic until transparent.


He and I opened red wine

as if we were familiar and on a whim

poured it into our dressing.


You always worked frantically

as if the right spice

was the only way to reach me.


He barely touched my back

while we cooked but I felt

an intimacy in eating.


He and I worked slowly

though we were hungry.


MC - Spring Reading in Jerusalem 2009:
                      Ira Director  
Panel - Spring Reading in Jerusalem 2009: 
Panel Moderator: Linda Stern Zisquit 
Panel of poets (from left) Morani Kornberg-Weiss, Daniel Savery, Dara Barnat and Yakov Azrie. 
Winter Reading  -
Bar-Ilan alumni and student poets, as well as
guest poets: 



Yonatan Sredni was born and raised in Palo Alto in northern California, but has lived in Israel since 1994. He has a BA in English from San Diego State University and completed the MA program in Creative Writing in fiction at

Bar- Ilan University in 2008.


His short stories, most of which combine his passion for baseball with Jewish themes, have been published online in Cyclamens and Swords and The Jewish Magazine. His short essays have appeared in The Jerusalem Post and Israel National News.


His poetry, like his prose, tends to focus on the lighter side of life in Israel.


Dr. Seifer


The waiting

The poking

More waiting

More poking



Dr. Seifer arrives


"Open Wide."

I open wide.

"Wider, please."


I open so wide

I feel my face cracking


"Does your mom still teach at the Hebrew day school?"

He asks that every time

My mom retired 8 years ago


"No cavities, but you've got to brush harder."


I nod

I spit

I rinse


Then the fluoride

I hate the fluoride

I loathe the fluoride

Time stands still with the fluoride


Finally, we're done.

Go pick a prize

From the big green frog


All the prizes suck.

I choose a pencil.

See you in 6 months.


I have a cleaning this Friday.


Spring Reading  -
Bar-Ilan alumni and student poets, as well as
guest poets from Stanza: 

Jerusalem, May 2009
                    Elana Meyersdorf  
   Yael Unterman

Yael Unterman was born in Jerusalem, Israel.  She grew up in Manchester, England, and returned to Israel at the age of 18. She holds a BA in Psychology and Talmud from Bar Ilan University, an MA in Jewish History from Touro College, and an MA in Creative Writing from Bar Ilan University. Yael has taught, lectured, performed and run workshops on five continents, has authored stories, articles, and a biography of Professor Nehama Leibowitz. She works as a life coach, enabling  people to live inspired, fulfilling lives.

 See her website,




One hundred,

One hundred and one,

I count, for counting

Is all I have.


I tell myself,

the stone has

a different face, each time -

as I roll it up

the blighted crag,

in a rut worn down

by my scabrous feet -

a different face than last time,

last hour,

last week.


But when it rolls down,

I know it is

the same stone;

rolling down,

speeding away

from me,

like one more

rejecting lover.


One hundred and two.


- - -


I got a fax yesterday,

It said, Sisyphus, we are with you,

We are sorry for your

endless labours,

From the Johannsons, Norway.


I get emails from around the world,

Sometimes flowers and chocolates,

Once, oddly, a toy frog.

They swamp me in kind words,

Pity, sympathy.


But I know if I stopped,


They would not bury me.

They would rush

to find another.


Someone must always push,

that heavy stone.


I don’t mind anymore.

As Camus said,

A face that toils so close to stones

is stone itself.


- - -


I was a king once, I think,

in a place called Corinth, I remember marble walls.

Rich, young, I was

filled with cunning, as

a beehive with honey;

I fooled Death himself – I think.


Perhaps it was just a dream.

For my name then was Siss and Fuss,

And now my name is



One time someone came and

told me I could stop,

The gods were tired of my toil;

bored. Enough.

From Bottom,

I looked at him,

Sweaty hair in my eyes, and

with my granite muscles,

leaned forward,

put my arms around my Rock –


kissed it. And

began rolling it again towards Top.



Guest poet from Tel Aviv University -  Moran Kornberg-Weiss, born in Tel Aviv, spent her early childhood in Southern California and moved back to Israel during high school. She completed her B.A. in English and Psychology at Tel Aviv University and is currently studying towards her M.A. in English. Moran has hosted

open-mic nights, poetry readings, and performance workshops at Tel Aviv. She also paints, sculpts and collects owls. This Fall, Moran will begin her Ph.D. at SUNY Buffalo's Poetics Program, and hopes to

spread her poetic spirit across the U.S.





Each Queen Stands on a Square of Her Own Color


I imagine

my mother and I

are the only two women

on this planet.


The world would no longer

be round, but a flat

chessboard and she and I

are opponents.


I never learned

how to play chess,

but I know the game

constitutes one winner.


And I am the woman

who can still bear child.


Daniel Savery, who is originally from London, lives in Tel Aviv. He worked as a professional travel journalist in the UK for over four years and has written for Haaretz and The Jerusalem Report in Israel. When poetry came back into his life, he entered the Shaindy Rudolph Graduate Program in Creative Writing at Bar Ilan University.


See Daniel’s web site www.danscribe.com


Bedtime Story, 1984

I sat on the carpet,
next to the coffee table,
eating a bag of chips,
dipping them into red sauce.

The TV was blaring,
the BBC 6’O Clock News,
when an Ethiopian child stared at me,
with flies buzzing around its head.

Its belly blown up like a balloon,
the eyes – an unfamiliar glare,
a misery inhuman,
from a distant, desert planet.

Not everyone has food,
not everyone has clothes
A child was dying,
before Top of the Pops.

On a Thursday night,
I was glued to the TV eye,
out of childish hunger,
rather than adult apathy.

I, was a child,
My questions were simple.
It may not have been real,
yet I was five years old.

How easy it was,
back then, eating chips.
That red sauce tasted good,
before I saw the news.



Miriam Carabok, born and brought up in rainy Scotland, has now been in sunny Israel for forty years and still hasn’t gotten used to it. However, she writes about neither place - inner weather is what interests her.  Her poems have been published in literary journals and on the web. She also runs poetry workshops whenever the opportunity arises, including for Voices Israel.

  Guest poet from Tel Aviv University - Ron Ben-Tovim is an MA student in TAU’s Department of English. Since his military service,he has been writing and reading poetry in both Hebrew and English.



Leah Moses, a graduate of the Shaindy Rudoff Graduate Program in Creative Writing, is a poet and English teacher. She revels in reciting "I am a Tree" by Ogden Nash with her 4th and 5th grade students while acting out its assonance.  She has published poems in The Derononda Review, Fallopian Falafel, Voices Anthology, and has a oem coming out in Poetica. She submitted to these journals, largely because her busy family and professional activities make it more convenient to publish where submissions are accepted by email.  Leah lives in Efrat with her husband Naftali, and their family. 




Yakov Azriel was born Gerald Rosenkrantz in 1950 in New York where he received his B.A. in English literature, summa cum laude. He holds a doctorate in Judaica, Over 120 of Yakov’s poems on Biblical and Jewish themes have been published in journals in the U.S., the U.K., and Israel, and have won a fellowship, as well as twelve prizes in international competitions. He has published three books of poems. They include, Threads from a Coat of Many Colors: Poems on Genesis, 2005, In the Shadow of a Burning Bush: Poems on Exodus, 2008, and Beads for the Messiah's Bride: Poems on Leviticus, 2009.



“When Terah had lived seventy years, he begot Abram...”  (Genesis 11:26)

Abraham’s mother (let’s call her Binah),

Was it she who taught Abraham

To ask why and why not?

In her lullabies,

Rocking him in a simple cradle,

Singing to him of little goats eating raisins and almonds,

Did she also mock the idols,

Whisper questions with no answers?


Abraham’s mother (let’s call her Emunah),

Was it she who first perceived

Beyond the façade of wind and storm

A greater power blows?

Was it her insight that showed a little boy

Not to bow to stars,

But let his own soul



Abraham’s mother (let’s call her Tikvah),

Did she smile behind her veil

When the youth smashed his father’s icons?

Was it she who supplied the hammer and the ax?


Abraham’s mother (let’s call her Eema),

Did she feel pride, or sadness, or triumph,

When her son, hearing God’s voice and choosing the route to Jerusalem,

Packed his belongings and left home?

Did she whisper, ‘God be with you?’

Was this her vindication?


Abraham’s mother;

Is all we have



Ari Kohn hails from Washington DC's metropolitan area.  Formerly

a world famous rap superstar with a large global fan base of  approximately 500 people, he has recently decided to tame and tone his rampant verbosity by attending the Creative Writing Program at Bar Ilan University.





Residents of New

Orleans gathered to wage

war on the world’s

butterfly population




Audience - Spring Reading in Jerusalem 2009:




Ramat Gan, February, 2010
Ira Director, the Chicago born poet and artist, lives in the small rural community of Kibbutz Gezer nestled near the foothills of the Judean Mountains where he writes, paints and sculpts. In addition to his poems appearing in numerous exhibitions as integral components of paintings, they have been published in Israeli and foreign journals. 

Traveling between America and the Middle East has added an element of diversity and a cross cultural perspective to the work.

In addition, he directs English Plus which provides international and local corporations with English language and communication training.




that one lucky      swipe



I ripped his throat out.


It’s not that deep,


but enough

to get infected.


What did he do,      play

in shit all day?



It’s a pretty good spot.


The branches are thick

enough.      Even


the giant whites

can’t get to me

in here.      Anything


small enough

to get in      I’ll





I’d even      be

happy with a mouse,


though it’s

half a day



fur and bone     for


every  mouth full


of meat.





would      have

to come close      enough

to grab it.


I’m already       too weak

to pounce


let alone hunt.      They’re

about      as stupid as


a lizard,


though their      instincts

are better.



I hate bugs      and

lizards. I wish this


fever would go down      or

at least


if the pipes would go on


I’d      get a drink from

a dripper. 



There it is again.

The spindly legs of

a great white. And


that      stupid hairless


face bending down.      About


as pretty as      an albino



squashed in the road.








I’m too weak to fight

or run,


but I’ll rip      its face

if it gets


any closer.



It left two bowls.






It could be a trap.

I’ll wait.      I’d

rather die


in the bushes      than 

in a cage.


I don’t see      any wires

or bars.


Crawling     hurts.



A week of

water and meat.


Let it

it stands there


and watch     me eat.

So what.


I can walk again.



I’ll hunt.


Damn II,


he’s huge.      He

belongs in a forest


like that

wild cat

who would visit 

our garden


when I was a child


in Linz.



With that torn

flopping left ear

and infected gash

in his neck


he looks      like

a wounded





He doesn’t move,


even when  I bring


his food.


Only looks at me.


If I stand back

far enough


he crawls






The last few days

he’s been



He walks

to eat.





he’ll hunt.



 Jerusalem, June 2010