The Death of Poetry

15.12.11 - "בית העם" - רוטשילד 69 ת"א

Yossi Alfi Reading from his book - from behind you can see Haim Siran. photo: Ezra Levy

by Liran Shamriz in Tel Aviv

A few months ago, the last stone was laid in the grave of Israeli arts. The last fund to support artists in Israel officially declared that it will stop supporting poetry, books and poets. This means that all expenses of publication are now solely on the backs of the people.

In a country where, on average, it takes nearly 40,000 shekels (almost 10,000 dollars) to publish a book, it is clear why there will be no chance for new artists to make it to the market. They gave up making money from their craft a long time ago, now they won’t be able to publish at all.

In days like this, I ask myself: is this struggle truly important? Missiles are landing on my house in Ashkelon. When I open the news I can see clearly that a clash with Hezbollah – or even Iran – will probably lead to a full blown war.

So yes, I have all the right to say, “fuck poetry, fuck the artists – the real issue is survival.”

But, what does it mean to survive? In what kind of world will we “survive?” A world made of steel and plastic, run by technical people, lacking creative imagination? A world without books and poems?

This is a world where children do not dream – they only fit themselves to a specific frame for their own financial benefit.

The fight for government funding is more than just for monies. The fight is for recognition for their efforts. And yes, even when I’m visiting my house in Ashkelon, going to  the bomb-shelter from now and then, I still think and believe the arts are important.

The media’s talk of war will soon become actual bombs, tanks and bullets. I need something else to fight for.

This article was first published on Global Jewish Voice

Read More about the conference and the struggle

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