Global Correspondent Report on Israel




Helen Bar-Lev, IL


Spring Again


As I write this, I am also preparing the May newsletter of Voices Israel, which is chock full of poetic activities. If you are interested in following our monthly newsletter just go to  and click on to Newsletter & Poet’s Voice. I try to have the newsletter online on the 1st of every month.

Briefly, there will be two workshops this month, one on the 17th at the David Yellin College in Jerusalem. The presentations will be inspiring: Joanna Chen: The Use of Colour in Poetry. Andrea Moriah: Writing in the Persona of Another. Ruth Fogelman will look at the works of British Denise Levertov and/or the American Mary Oliver. Yos si Gotlieb "Conjugality…," and "Bialik Hall" as departure points for discussion and how these works relate to existentialism and transcendentalism.

The other workshop is a grander affair – at the Blue Bay Hotel in Netanya, from the 31st of May until 1 June, with most participants sleeping over at this nice hotel which overlooks the Mediterranean and is just far enough out of the crowded city of Netanya to be pleasant. The name of the event is Poetry-by-the Sea. From 5 – 9 p.m. with an hour out for dinner, Esther Cameron (the judge of the 2011 Reuben Rose Annual Competition and editor-in-chief of the Deronda Review), vi a a udio presentation, will give a workshop entitled: “Our Most Classical Poems, and Their Stories”. The following morning from 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., Prof. William Kolbrener of Bar-Ilan University will be holding a workshop: on "Religion, Love and Loss in Milton`s Paradise Lost."

Both workshops should be marvelous events and I hope to have some poems for you from those workshops for the next issue of SKETCHBOOK.

In addition, Voices has been invited to attend the International Creative Writing Conference of the Shaindy Rudoff Graduate Course in Creative Writing from Sunday - Tuesday 6-8th May at Bar Ilan University. This diverse and fascinating series is free and open to the public.

I bet you wish you could be here this May!

Cyclamens and Swords is now accepting poems, short stories and artwork for our August issue. Poems must be on the theme UNFORGETTABLE. Deadline for submissions is 15 July 2012. Send to: or to me, No previously published poems. See our website for complete guidelines.

Voices Israel announces the 23rd annual Reuben Rose Poetry Competition


Judges: Kenneth Salzmann of USA, Yakov Azriel, last year’s first prize winner and Dina Yehuda, last year’s 3rd prize winner.

First prize - $500, second prize - $150, third prize - $50. Ten honorable mentions. Prizewinners and all honorable mentions will be published in the Voices Israel 2013 Poetry Anthology.

  • The competition is general and not necessarily on Jewish or Israeli subjects.

  • Challenging, humorous and/or curious poetry is welcome.

  • Poems should be unpublished, no more than 40 lines, including stanza breaks but not including title.

  • Use the online submission form at  to submit your poems.

  • Poems are judged anonymously

  • Submission period: Competition poems must be received during the period June 1st. 2012 - September 30th. 2012.

  • Cost: Voices Israel members: US$5.00 for one poem, $10 for 3 poems, $15 for 6 poems. Non members: US$6.00 for one poem, $12 for 3 poems, $18 for 6 poems.

  • Payment by PayPal after you submit your online submission form.

In the meantime our country, true to its Mediterranean climate, is drying out. There has been virtually no rain in April, though March set a record for rainfall and all the wildflowers in the country responded gratefully. Last Tuesday Johnmichael and I were driving to Nahariya, which is west of Metulla, on the northern road – a two-lane road with virtually no traffic and exquisite landscape. And for the first time in our combined nearly 100 years in Israel, we saw the wild iris, Iris Mesopotamica, picture below. There were at least 50 of them, just in this one spot along the road – the stems are exceptionally long and their colour is lilac – even Wikipedia does not have a photo of it! This photo was taken in the evening.

You may have seen this poem before, since I wrote it seven years ago and it appears in our book Cyclamens and Swords and Other Poems About the Land of Israel, but as it is appropriate, here it is again:


Free Verse


Spring Again


Too beautiful my country
in your green and golden spring costumes
with a dash of pinks and purples
thrown in to further delight
already intoxicated eyes
poppies peek red
blooming fruit trees disappear
into Heaven’s horizon

A field of cows
then of sheep, as yet unshorn,
mingle amongst the rocks, the green,
almost unseen camouflaged creatures,
each glistens different in the generous sun

I lose myself through all this beauty
disappear into the amazement of it
disintegrate into its exquisiteness
absorb myself into it
so that I am a colour in its palette
a speck in its loveliness

It is as though God thought of artists
when he created flowers
invented spring greens
I cannot conceive a reality without the existence
of a spring filled Israel

And strange how each year I forget,
caught up as I am
in the enjoyment of spring’s sister seasons,
that I have been this ravenous
to feast on spring again


Helen Bar-Lev, artist, poet
Senior Editor, Cyclamens and Swords Publishing

Secretary, Voices Israel Group of Poets in English

Contributing editor and global correspondent,
SKETCHBOOK, A Journal for Eastern and Western Short Forms

International Senior Poet Laureate, 2009
Amy Kitchener Foundation









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