Global Correspondent Report on Israel




Helen Bar-Lev, IL


Riding the Elephant


Hello everyone! This month I am in the happy position of having so much to report that I don't know where to start. I guess the most important piece of news is that I have resigned as Editor-in-Chief of the Voices Israel Anthology. These past three years have been wonderful and interesting and I've met many lovely people and learned much. But I need to devote more time to my artwork, as so it is. Taking my place as co-editors are Sheryl Abbey and Michael Dickel, both from Jerusalem. The submission rules remain as last year, up to four poems, maximum 40 lines per poem, full contact info on each poem, though the poems will be judged anonymously.  this is the new email address for submitting poems to the 2010 Voices Israel Anthologythe well-known, many-prize-winning Canadian poet, John B. Lee will be the judge. Please address queries to this email only.

You may read all of the prize-winning Reuben Rose poems on the Voices Israel web site:

The next activity with Voices will be the June annual workshop in Haifa which I organize. There will be five speakers, Adrian Boas, Michael Dickel, Johnmichael Simon, Sara Avital and Mike ScheidemannI'll give you details next time.

Perhaps you remember that Johnmichael and I were about to embark on a six week trip to Bangkok, Melbourne and New Zealand. It was most definitely the "trip of a lifetime". Johnmichael has close family in Melbourne. We were with them the day of 47oC heat and were there when the devastating fires raged. We had to cancel a planned 4-day trip to an area where the fires were out of control. While in Melbourne we met the distinguished poets Alex Skovron and Doris Brett and the writer Goldie Alexander. We had an evening of poetry reading which was electric. In addition we were interviewed and read our poems on Radio Port Philip, the interviewer being Del Nightingale. This was arranged through the kindness of Peter Pike of Sydney, who is editor of FreeXpresSion, a monthly magazine that has been published monthly since 1993.

The highlight of our trip was New Zealanda country of exquisite landscape and few inhabitants (4,500,000 people, compared with Israel's 7.5 million in a country more than 10 the size). The roads, even though summer, were nearly empty. We attended a poetry reading at the Cromwell Poetry Society, South Island. Our internet poet-friend, David George, took us to see old gold mining areas and brought us to the meeting.

When we returned, from almost-Autumn to almost-Spring, I opened the exhibition of my landscape paintings in Haifa which John and Karina were so kind as to tell you about 2 months ago when we were traveling and I was unable to file a report. We found a spring magnificent! In our yard were blooming over 100 wild anemones, white, blue, purple, red, lilac, pink, dark pink. The whole country, even now, is yellowgorse, acacia, daisies, buttercups and other flowers whose names I do not know, every where you go there is yellow, interspersed with red poppies. Quite stunning.

We also put up our Spring 2009 Cyclamens and Swords website. Please take a look:

Do you remember I mentioned this strange telepathy of subject between members of writers/poets groups? Well, this past week we met with our twice-monthly writers group. Two people mentioned the mandrake plant in their poems, while one person wrote a short story entitled "The White Subaru" and another is writing a short story entitled "The Green Datsun". They both began writing the stories at the same time.

Below three poems from each country we visited (and yes, riding that elephant was another highlight!):


Sunday in Bangkok


The seven o'clock bird
bellows good morning
to a still sleeping
Sunday Bangkok
humid as a sauna,
to a six-storey Buddha
whose gold lights up
the rising sun,
to the woman
on the rooftop garden,
whose love-words encourage
the plants to grow,
to two old tourists,
intent on riding elephants,
too exhausted
to seek out bargains,
to notice the dirt of this city,
sprawling into infinity



Valentine's Day in Australia


turn to gold

Between gold
and day
the moon removes itself
from a bluing sky

A cockatoo yawns
a kangaroo
on the lawn
looks up
towards the window's
bounds away
at the camera's click

A Valentine's gift
from Australia



Eden in New Zealand


In New Zealand
another sun rises
in a red sky
to begin the world's day

A bird-filled, snakeless,
Garden of Eden,
a kiwi yawns,
a bored Eve munches an apple,
complains about the cost of lemons,
the state of the roads

I am tempted to stay,
to taste this delicious boredom
a bit more,
but board the plane,
return to my snake-filled home









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