It is certainly time to honor Aharon Almog, as his daughter Eliana suggests in her blog. It is doubtful that the protest voiced by this poet of Yemenite origin has echoed as far as it should. And yet, once aware of his critical approach, the protest part seems almost obvious.
For example here, in a poem that is surely a bit caustic about both the romantic approach to poetry and the world’s nearly total disregard of it (in favor of professions that command a higher regard and much more money):
How proud my mother was; my son is a poet
the neighborhood women looked at her in awe, her son is a poet
neither doctor nor engineer, a poet
as if something otherworldly
Almog’s work is very much of this world – both his family and the city of Tel Aviv, where he was born in a Yemenite neighborhood founded by his grandfather (who immigrated to Palestine in the 1880s), which is now, ironically enough, quite gentrified.
Almog graduated from the Mikve Yisrael Agricultural School and Tel Aviv University, and taught Hebrew literature at a Tel Aviv high school. A poet, novelist and playwright, his first poems were published in 1951 and his first stories in 1959. In 1982 he received the Brenner Prize, in 1989 the Prime Minister’s Prize in Literature and in 1999 the Bialik Prize. Almog is married to prize-winning writer and reviewer Ruth Almog, who was born in Petah Tikva in 1936 to doctor parents of German descent who began their lives in Palestine raising bees and producing honey. Ahron and Ruth Almog are the parents of two daughters.
Poetry in Hebrew
Aviv Atzevet B’Yehuda [Sad Spring in Judea], Sifriat Poalim, Merhavia, 1956
Hatzda’a Le-Israel [Praise to Israel], Sifriat Poalim, Merhavia, 1972
Hilton Yerushalayim [Jerusalem Hilton], Sifriat Poalim, Merhavia, 1979
La-Menatzeah Al Mot Sahkan Kaduregel [To Immortalize a Football Player], Hakibbutz Hameuchad, Tel Aviv, 1981
Requiem Le-Zonah [Requiem for a Whore], Hakibbutz Hameuchad, Tel Aviv, 1983
Rehov Herzl [Herzl Street], Am Oved, Tel Aviv, 1987
Im Tiru Sukka Afa [If You See a Sukka Flying], Hakibbutz Hameuchad, Tel Aviv, 2004
Fiction in Hebrew
Ha-Yamim Ha-Rishonim [First Days], Tarmil, Tel Aviv, 1964
Kelev Shahor [Black Dog and Other Stories], Tarmil, Tel Aviv, 1974
Shavua Be-Tashah [A Week in 1948], Tarmil, Tel Aviv,1980
Ha-Laila She-Bo Meta Ha-Tzionut [The Night that Zionism Died], Zmora Bitan, Tel Aviv, 1989
Al Tats-hiku et Safta [Don’t Make Grandma Laugh], Zmora Bitan, Tel Aviv, 1994
Plays in Hebrew
Tikun Hatzot [Midnight Prayer], Ministry of Defense, Tel Aviv, 1961
Eliana Almog’s blog entry, ‘My Father the Protest Poet’.
Complete bibliography (in Hebrew).
Aharon Almog’s writing desk, photographed by Tali Amitai
Sponsored by POETRY PLACE