The recent protest movement in Israel is something of a mystery not only to us, across the ocean, but even to many Israelis. Today The Arty Semite is featuring a glimpse into the heart of this phenomenon through a poem-invitation, composed by a promising young Israeli poet, Anat Levin.
One can endlessly argue about the merits of art imbued with political purposes, and the danger of it edging into propaganda. But, with Anat’s “Reasons,” such reservations simply fall by the wayside. The work is, in a way, anti-political. Instead it is strictly social, heart-breaking, beseeching — as perhaps the movement is itself. What is most fascinating about piece is how it gradually moves and develops, its stark realism becoming increasingly — and intensely — more poetic with each line, culminating in a penultimate stanza which is not only lyrical, but also wonderfully personal, evoking the poet’s own presence.
In addition to the translation by Shoshana London-Sappir, we’re also including the original in Hebrew. And for contrast’s sake, we have one of Anat’s older poems, which she composed in English as an undergraduate at Hunter College in New York City.