Hezy Leskly
(Israel, 1952–1994)   
 
 
 
Hezy Leskly

Poet, choreographer and dance critic Hezy Leskly was born in Israel to Czech Holocaust survivors; he died young, of AIDS, at the height of his creative powers. He had the courage to publicly out his sexual identity as an artist, and also to advance the interests of this community at a time when Israeli society’s receptiveness to gender differences was lower than it is now.

Understanding the use of nonsense in serious poetry is key to understanding Leskly’s work, as Gilad Meiri notes in his essay. Leskly's work is also innovative due to the influence of nonverbal arts, as Meir Wieseltier says in an interview that ranges over the poet's life and work:  

“Hezy was the only Israeli poet to come to poetry from a different field of art. This is a big advantage. Reading and learning have changed enormously over the last two decades and to a certain extent Hezy was one of the poets most suited to the new ways. He came from the plastic arts, created installations, was involved in dance as a critic and a choreographer; he understood dance in a profound and intriguing way. All of this is expressed in his poetry. The plasticity of the verbal images he produced is very different, very good and very interesting. That’s one side.
 
“In addition, he was born into Hebrew, although his parents were Holocaust survivors who did not speak the language well. As a young man he left for Holland to study the plastic arts – nonverbal art – and was attracted there to dance – also nonverbal; in a sense he stepped out of the Hebrew language. He returned to it after several years and this process left a mark on his language. His Hebrew is terrific, but it’s a fact that he traveled along this loop – that he consciously or unconsciously decided to leave, and afterward to return precisely to the dimension of language. When he came back to Israel from Holland, he began to write a lot: not only poetry, but also journalism for the weekly HaIr. He wrote large quantities of texts. His language is intriguing – not all poets use interesting language; there are interesting poets whose prose is not particularly interesting at all.”

© Lisa Katz

Bibliography

The Finger (Ha-etzba), Am Oved, Tel Aviv, 1986
Addition and Subtraction (Hibur ve-hisur), Am Oved, Tel Aviv, 1988
The Mice and Leah Goldberg (Ha-ahbarim ve-Leah Goldberg), Helicon, Tel Aviv, 1992
Dear Perverts (Sotim yekarim), Helicon, Tel Aviv, 1994
Collected Poems (Be`er halav beh-emtza ir), Am Oved, Tel Aviv, 2009      
 
Links

Video
A song version of ‘I won’t go to Paris’
A musical tribute to the poet by Chanan Ben Simon
Leskly reading a poem embedded within the film Yakintalisa
Excerpt from an evening dedicated to the poet

In English
The poem ‘Remains’ in English translation

In Hebrew
Complete bibliographical entry
The poet as a tough dance critic
On the poet’s early work

 



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