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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
It is not an uncommon phenomenon for people to occasionally wish they could be
around to hear and/or see an artist perform his or her own work, rather than
getting the material second hand. Every year, the Poetry Festival in Metulla
offers a golden opportunity to hear poets read some of the fruits of their
labors and even discuss where they got their ideas, and where they come from
personally and creatively.
Last week’s festival boasted a heavyweight
lineup of local literary giants, and some lesser known and younger poets. For
starters, the official opening ceremony last Tuesday evening featured the award
of prizes, sponsored by Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, for the best debut
published male and female poets in the country – 27-year-old Jerusalemite Nadav
Liniel and 41-year-old single mother-of-two Sigal Ben Yair from Nesher
respectively. The session was ably MCed by the festival’s artistic director
poet-lecturer Rafi Weichert, who provided an ubiquitous steady guiding hand for
many of the festival’s events.
In a curious artistic marriage, the award
ceremony, which included some brief poetry readings, was followed by a concert
featuring veteran rockers guitarist-singer Corinne Alal and bassist-singer Eran
Tzur. While, mainly, the younger members of the audience demonstrated their
appreciation of the on stage action with great enthusiasm, others elected to
leave the musical proceedings in the middle.
The same happened on the
morrow, when talented young singer Yasmin Even regaled a steadily dwindling
audience following an enlightening session in which some of our top poets –
including the likes of Erez Biton, Agi Mishol, Asher Reich, Mordehai Goldman and
Maya Bazarano – doffed a hat in the direction of some of the genre’s post-Bialik
generation greats. That was a shame because Even, and her trio, mostly did a
very good job with the poetic material she addressed.
Over the four days
of the festival there were highly enjoyable sessions with the likes of Rivka
Miriam, who read some of her works, including from her newest tome Lifnei
Hanessia (Before the Journey) which includes drawings by fellow Jerusalemite,
painter Meir Appelfeld. The same session, which was chaired by Liniel, also
featured veteran vision impaired poet Erez Biton, who caught the packed
audience’s attention with a stirring reading of half a dozen of his
One of the mainstays of the festival since its inception in 1996,
Prof. Nissim Calderon moderated the closing session at midday on Thursday, with
his trademark high energy approach. The meet included works by Gilit Homsky,
Khen Yisrael Klinman and award recipient Ben Yair, who read some poems from her
suitably entitled down-to-earth first book Loh Me’udan (Unrefined).
the lasting impression of the Poetry Festival, came not from the stages but from
the fact that there appears to be a devoted, although not massive, following of
homegrown poetry in this country.