Israelis in Berlin | l’Humanité

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I was interviewed for the l’Humanité (French newspaper) by Christophe Deroubaix

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Here is what they wrote in Germany about my poetic collaboration with Karola Pasquay

An artfully elaborate recital of poetry and music

Katharina Gun Oehlert and Karola Pasquay recite works by young Jewish poets in Berlin

Katharina Gun Oehlert and Karola Pasquay are both masters of the art of inspiring listeners to contemplate and reflect. They employed this skill in their performance “bis hier bist du gekommen” (you have come thus far) for three young Jewish poets from Berlin within the framework of the Jüdische Kulturtage. The high presbytery of the Reformationskirche is softly lit, a meditative atmosphere surrounds the artists. They explore the poetic landscapes of contemporary Jewish poetry with their words and music. Gun Oehlert employs her voice with subtle sensibility to give the audience access to the strong, expressive lyrics. Mati Shemoelof’s texts are biographical sketches with political overtones that are both rebelliously accusatory and melancholic. His poem “Eine neue Art Freundschaft” (a new kind of friendship) is full of resignation and wistfulness, his “Ungeschriebenes Lied für einen ungeborenen Sohn” (unwritten song for an unborn son) is poignantly moving – “…my son, relationships run through my fingers like sand … my son, hold me tight … my son, we don’t know each other …”

The tranquillity that surrounds Gun Oehlert fascinates the listeners, and it is her subtle undertones that distinguish her recital and reveal the hidden light of the words. Closing your eyes and listening, you see the images before your inner eye. Gun Oehlert is very present – inwardly and outwardly – with her dark, clear voice, her gestures, her hands, her eyes.

Karola Pasquay’s musical flourishes adorn the lyrics with virtuosity, creating a colourful dance of sound – jubilant, wistful passages on the flute, murmuring glissandi produced by the bow. Then the cosmos of sounds brought forth by special instruments – tender, melodic, shrill, threatening. The artist improvises masterfully using singing bowls, glasses, paper, and her own voice, embedded in chords played on the piano

In their poems, the three writers explore the past, migration, finding a home and being a stranger in concise, clear poetic images. “Unterricht” (lesson) by Maya Kupermann deals with the art of letting go. “Eine Erinnerung von mir und dir zu schaffen ist genauso wie ein Haus aus einem Stein zu bauen …” (creating a memory of you and me is like building a house from one single stone). Wistfulness is also the dominant mood in her “Was Geschichte uns nicht lehrt” (what history doesn’t teach us), a memory of her late grandfather who suffered during the war in Haifa

Ronen Altman Kaydar’s poetry oscillates between history and natural science. His maritime impressions “Für einen Augenblick” (for a brief moment) and “… bis hier bist du gekommen. Unberührt blieb Unendlichkeit” (you have come thus far – infinitude remained untouched) are permeated with a distinctive lyrical magic. His poem “No name” will sum up many young Israelis’ quest for their identity: “… I talk to myself in Hebrew, without a homeland … I don’t know where I came from and where I’m going. But even being a stranger has its moment of birth.”

Silence, and then a well-deserved, long ovation


2015-02-01 11.31.18On 13.4.2015 I will be reading my poems and talking about writing poetry in Hebrew in Berlin together with Admiel Kosman, Maya Koperman and the wonderful Gadi Goldberg will moderate.If you are in Berlin, come to literaturwerkstatt. We have a lot to say