The titles of Oreet Meital’s volumes of verse – Problems of Balance and Optional Poems – indicate a level of good-humoured self-criticism and tentativeness not often found in the writing world, or anywhere, for that matter. “Delilah is gone,” the speaker in ‘There are Days’ tells someone with nothing to do; without any biblical backup, he’ll have to cut his own hair. “By night on my bed I’m a sorry mess,” says the speaker of another poem, in which Meital mixes the beautiful diction of The Song of Songs with colloquial Hebrew, in order to talk about, among other things, the way our beds fill with past and imagined lovers, even when we are alone in them. But she also treats the freighted topics of rape and worn-out mothers; her political poetry appears in both the Hebrew and English versions of the anthology With an Iron Pen.
Oreet Meital heads the Creative Writing Program at Tel Aviv University, where she also teaches literature. She was born in Jerusalem and raised for her first six years (bilingual in Hebrew and French) in Belgium, where her father taught medicine. She received her PhD in Hebrew literature from Ben Gurion University for a thesis about the more personal poetry of Uri Zvi Greenberg; last year she was awarded a fellowship from the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture for her work on ‘Mourning the mother in new Hebrew poetry’. Meital, herself the mother of two sons, is currently working on mother–son relationships in Greenberg’s poetry, and “brooding” (in the sense of nesting) over a third book of poems.
Be'ayot shivui mishkal (Problems of Balance), Tel Aviv, Sifriat Poalim, 1999
Shiray breira (Optional Poems), Jerusalem, Carmel, 2007
“I would like to listen more”: An interview with Oreet Meital in Hebrew