Originally posted on Mati Shemoelof:
fiction by mati shemoelof
To Almog Behar
Salah has to be late on the one day when I didn’t take my mobile, and this crumbling café doesn’t have a single working phone. Of course it’s today that I have an exhausting headache. It wipes me out. It wipes out my ability to communicate “Allāhu Akbar” calls the muezzin, and I pray quietly, “Praised are you, Lord our God, King of the universe, for granting us life, for sustaining us, and for helping us to reach this day.” I take out the apple flavoured red tobacco , which is really just disguising the deeper sweetness of strawberries with its apply flesh, spread some hashish over it to give it a kick, and return my head to its nonexistent body. I imagine the rich sweet scent carried through my…
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It’s one of the peaks of my life. I was invited to read ten of my poems in the Arab Jewish Texts Conference by the Chicago University. That’s the second U.S conference that I am attending and I am so happy and proud that my art is getting its recognition. On the coming May I will attend another conference in Berlin and also another panel in June. Soon I will bring all the details.
I am still working on editing my first short story book in Zmora Bitan publishers. And also I am in a process of learning to know Berlin and its wonders. The immigration is affecting my views on me and on the society. I am looking forward to publish my works in other languages but first I have to finish my first short story book. see ya!
Here are the Poems I’ve read:
- The cause of my death: too many love songs, The Levant Notebook, 2013
- In an Entire Ruined Village and at the Jaffa Expulsion, Zeek Magazine, 2012
- Why don’t I write Israeli Love Songs, Fusion – Big Bridge, Spring 2011
- Dictatorship Spot, Arpolitica, 27.7.2010
- They drove out our hope, 2010
- The cabin of our decline, 2010
- My deceased father, 2006
Mati Shemoelof is a Poet, Author, Editor, and Journalist. His diverse writing includes poetry (5 poetry books), plays, and prose. Shemoelof’s works have won significant recognition and prizes and have been translated to six languages. His next book will be published by Kinneret Zmora-Bitan Dvir, the leading publishing company in Israel, where he has recently signed a publishing contract for a short stories book to be edited by Professor Yigal Schwartz. As an editor, Shemoelof edited a vast variety of magazines and papers, most of which deal with poetry and culture. He was the founder of Guerrilla Culture Movement Read More…
Awda – Book cover
Awda assembles 12 short stories who will take place in an imagined reality after the return of the Palestinian Refugees. The stories were written by Umar al-Ghubari, Tzvi Ben Dor-Banit, Daniela Karmi, Mati Shemoelof, Isra’a Kalash, Amal Eqeiq Adi Sorek, Yehouda Shenhav-Sharabani, Husam Othman, Hanna Eady, Ala Hlehel and Tomer Gardi.
The book will be sold in a special price of 50 nis. The book is published by Zochrot and Pardes
A “digital roundtable” held Nov. 14 is the latest example of how 21st century technology is breaking down international borders and transforming Cornell’s campus in the humanities as well as the sciences.
“New Mizrahi Writing in Israel: Digital Roundtable,” held in a Martha Van Rensselaer Hall videoconferencing facility, brought together writers on three continents to discuss the contemporary Israeli literary scene for an on-campus audience of students and faculty. The writers were chosen, said organizer Deborah Starr, because their work grapples with the cultural and linguistic heritage of their families who immigrated to Israel from Arab or Muslim countries (termed “Mizrahi Jews”).
“The webcast panel offered students in Ithaca a glimpse into the vibrant Israeli literary scene,” said Starr, professor of modern Hebrew and Arabic literature in the Department of Near Eastern Studies. “And it gave the writers a chance to get to know each other. It was a pretty lively discussion, as they had very different points of view”.
Michal Held, poet and scholar of Ladino, participated from Jerusalem, and began the event by reading a poem in Hebrew and English that she called a “manifesto” against not being categorized “Mizrahi”.
Her manifesto was echoed by Sami Berdugo, participating from Berlin, who read a poem in Hebrew, Arabic and English that reflected his ambivalence toward Hebrew and his Israeli identity. “I feel I have no community in Israel, religious, Mizrahi, sexual or other,” he said, adding “no category applies to me.
Poet Anat Zecharia, calling in from Tel Aviv, said she agreed with Berdugo. When someone reads her poems “as a manifesto of feminism or as an Israeli poet or as a Mizrahi poet, it makes him see maybe the end of the poem, but he never gets down deep to what I mean or think”.
But Almog Behar, award-winning author and poet and a visiting scholar at Cornell, said, “For me, you can be Mizrahi and Israeli and Jewish and Arabic and so on and they don’t contradict each other.” He noted that in the previous generation, “calling people ‘Mizrahi writers’ was a limiting title that was meant to place them in a narrow place in Israeli culture which would be marginalized within Israeli literature … but as a self-definition it also has the power to broaden Israeli literature. It allows us to connect with parts of our literature that were hidden from us”
Poet and playwright Mati Shemoelof, participating from Tel Aviv, said he has begun writing in prose “to find a new place in the culture so the categories focused on my writing will be different. In my prose I am less aware of the categories and try to write less politically and more freely than before.” Still, he added, “I’m proud that my work until now has been Mizrahi work. I’m proud of my ethnicity.
The roundtable was sponsored by the Department of Near Eastern Studies, the Jewish Studies Program and the Society for the Humanities, with support from the Hope and Eli Hurowitz Fund. Behar’s visiting scholar appointment is funded by the Shusterman Foundation.
Linda B. Glaser is staff writer for the College of Arts and Sciences
The land is not Middle-Eastern
The fury compels to write an illiterate poem
Black in the midst of white tunnels
Words torn apart in some unknown prison
Stand united and revolt the language
We stood up
In the ruins of the racist words that surrounded us
In transit-camps that weren’t vowelized or dotted
We are the slaves of Homer and the maids of Bialik
We Call Mizrahit against and over, a type of a
T h i r d option for poetry
 Bialik was one of the pioneers of modern Hebrew poets and came to be recognized as Israel’s national poet.
 Mizrahit – Sepharadic or Mizrahi Jews are Jews of Middle-Eastern descent whose families in most cases immigrated to Israel from Arab countries. They form about half of the Israeli Jewish population. The painful reality this anthology deals with is the division within Israeli society between Ashkenazi Jews (of Eastern European descent) and Mizrahis.
This reality often goes unnoticed by outside observers, who naturally focus on the more violent aspects of Israeli political reality and the division Jew/non-Jew which the Israeli state draws. In fact, in the mainstream of Israeli discourse there has long been a systematic avoidance/denial of this division, maintaining – as is perhaps “demanded” by the core of Zionist ideology and its ongoing nation-building project – that the Jews are a distinct people and that Israeli Jews have a unified ethnicity and a shared history. Indeed, the mere notion of an Arab Jew, as some Mizrahis identify today themselves, is close to unthinkable in most mainstream media and consciousness. But the divide is not painful simply because it is denied. There is a history of political, economic and cultural oppression of Mizrahis and, as relatively recent scholarship establishes clearly, much of these elements are present to this day.