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Poet Aharon Shabtai Bans International Poetry Festival in Jerusalem

The email exchange below indicates that the festival has sent invitations to, among others, Adonis, Adrienne Rich, Manuel Alegre, Goeffrey Hill, and Tomas Tranströmer. (drop them a line, anyone?)


3 Jan. 2004

From: aharon shabtai
Date: January 3, 2006 12:11:06 CET
To: Elisabeth Mizrahi
Subject: Re: From Yitshak Ayzenberg - Mishkenot Sha'ananim

Yitshak Ayzenberg Shalom,

Thank you for the invitation to participate in the International Poetry Festival in Jerusalem, 2006, and for the details. I ask that you remove my name from the list of participants. I read nowadays of the barbarism of the Qalandiah check-point. I object to an international poets festival in a city where the Arab inhabitants are systematically and brutally oppressed, imprisoned between walls, being robbed of their rights and their livelihood, humiliated in check-points, and international laws are trampled. I think that even poets were not allowed in the past, and are not allowed in the present, to ignore persecution and discrimination on a racist and nationalist background.

Yours, Aharon Shabtai

> On Jan 2, 2006, at 7:43, Elisabet Mizrahi wrote:

> Shalom Aharon,

> Thank you for your prompt response. Shortly you will also receive our invitation letter. As for your quesitons, the festival editors and managers are Ariel Hirshfeld and Agi Mishol. The festival will take place in Mishkenot Sha'ananim between 29.10.2006 and 1.11.2006. Among the participants will be Israeli and foreign poets.

> Participants include Amir Or, Haim Guri, Israel Eliraz, Dana Amir, Nurit Zarhi, Rachel Halfi, Yitzhak Laor, Roni Somek, Salman Masalha, Agi Mishol, Israel Pinkas, Yonadav Kaplon, Tamir Lahav Redelmesser, Tamir Greenberg, Dana Amir, Lior Sternberg, and others.

> Regarding the foreign poets invited at this stage - Adonis, Adrienne Rich, Manuel Alegre, Goeffrey Hill, Noel Ro,[sic.] Tomas Tranströmer, and many others.
> I am at your service for any further information, and you are welcome to contact me when you like, and of course, when you are back in the country.

> Best regards,

> Yitzhak Ayzenberg
> Program Department
> Mishkenot Sha'ananim

>> From: aharon shabtai
>> Sent: Monday, January 02, 2006 5:16 AM
>> To: Elisabet Mizrahi
>> Subject: Re: Yitshak Ayzenberg - Mishkenot Sha'ananim

>> Yitzhak Ayzenberg Shalom,

>> My address in Amsterdam: [omitted], but on Januray 25 I'm coming back to Tel-Aviv. My address there: [omitted]. I'd be grateful if you would tell me who chooses the poets and runs the festival, and who are the participants.

>> Yours,
>> Aharon Shabtai

>>> On Jan 1, 2006, at 14:25, Elisabet Mizrahi wrote:

>>> Shalom Aharon Shabtai,

>>> My name is Yitzhak Ayzenberg and I write to you from the program department in Mishkenot Sha'ananim, Jerusalem.

>>> I am pleased to say that you are invited to participate as a guest poet in the Seventh International Poetry Festival that will take place in Mishkenot Sha'ananim between 29.10.2006 and 1.11.2006.

>>> In order to send you an official invitation, and a form that you are supposed to sign, I need your postal address, as well as your phone and fax numbers.

>>> Please contact me presently and send me your contacts whether in the country or abroad.

>>> Thank you,

>>> Yitzhak Ayzenberg


Aharon Shabtai was born in 1939 in Tel Aviv and spent his childhood on Kibbutz Merhavia. Shabtai is the author of sixteen books of poetry and the greatest contemporary translator into Hebrew of Greek drama. His recent collection of poems, J'Accuse (Buy from an independent bookstore, buy from Amazon), was published in English in 2003.