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Three Israeli poets
Ayat Abou Shmeiss
(Israel, 1984)
By Lisa Katz “I wish I could cry fire/ and every time I cried/ you’d burn” writes Palestinian-Israeli poet Ayat Abou Shmeiss in her second book of poetry in Hebrew, perhaps about love or perhaps about society. In a recent article in the Tel Aviv Review of Books, interviewer Jnan Bsoul notes that Abou Shmeiss, “an observant Muslim from Jaffa, writes in Hebrew without disavowing her Palestinian identity. Gentle and unobtrusive, her writing nonetheless challenges her religious and socially conservative background”.  And the larger community in which she lives. The …

Vaan Nguyen
(Israel, 1982)
By Adriana X. Jacobs Vaan Nguyen was born in 1982 in Ashkelon, Israel and raised in Jaffa, near Tel Aviv.  Her debut collection The Truffle Eye received an enthusiastic reception when it appeared as a print and digital chapbook in 2008. Roy Chicky Arad, who published Nguyen’s early poems in the literary journal Ma’ayan, described her work as “eel-like, elusive, shimmering” in Ha’aretz. In a review titled “The Critic in Love” in Ma’ariv, Menachem Ben, a prominent literary and cultural critic, situated Nguyen’s work among the …

Adi Keissar
(Israel, 1980)
By Lisa Katz Poet Adi Keissar is perhaps best known for the politicized literary project of which she is founder and director, Ars Poetica, devoted to writing by Israelis of Mizrahi, that is, “eastern”, background: Jews with roots in Arabic and/or Moslem countries and regions. The name Ars Poetica is Hebrew word play on the Latin phrase meaning the “art of poetry”. In Arabic the word ars means pimp; in Hebrew, an ars is a young, lower class Jewish man of Mizrahi heritage – an insult. So the movement, taking an in-your-face tack, means to celebrate what …


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