Aharon Shabtai

Aharon Shabtai

An Israeli poet born in 1939, Shabtai is notorious for his poems of frank erotic confessionalism and political rage, which appear regularly in the leading newspaper, Ha’aretz. On another side, he is the primary translator of classical Greek literature into Hebrew. New Directions published his book, J’Accuse, in 2003 and War & Love: Love & War: New and Selected Poems in 2010, both translated by Peter Cole. Also available in English is Love & Selected Poems (Sheep Meadow, 1997).

War & Love, Love & War

Poetry by Aharon Shabtai

Translated from the Hebrew by Peter Cole

War & Love, Love & War presents a poetic biography of one of Israel’s living literary masters, an artist whom the National Book Award-winner C. K. Williams has called “one of the most exciting poets writing anywhere, and certainly the most audacious.” The book moves from shockingly potent political poems to love lyrics that are as explosive and sometimes bawdy as they are tender; from early and stirring inventories of kibbutz life to a radically inventive midrash on (and paean to) the career and character of the Israeli right-wing leader Menachem Begin; from passion for justice to passion for a deeply mourned wife.…
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J’accuse

Poetry by Aharon Shabtai

Translated by Peter Cole

Playing on Zola’s famous letter denouncing the anti-Semitism of the French government throughout the Dreyfus affair, Aharon Shabtai’s title can be taken literally: it charges his government and his people with crimes against the humanity of their neighbors. Here we find snipers shooting children, spin-masters trying to whitewash blood baths, ammunition “distributed like bars of chocolate,” and “technicians of slaughter” for whom morality is merely “a pain in the ass.” With a splendid lyrical physicality that accentuates Shabtai’s terse immediacy and matter-of-fact scorn, the poems cover a period of six years – from the 1996 election of Netanyahu as prime minister through the curfews, lynchings, riots, sieges, and bombings of the second intifada.…
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