LANGUAGE SAYS

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    Amir Or
    Amir Or, born in 1956 in Tel Aviv, has published 8 volumes of poetry. His poems have been translated into more than 30 languages and published in 9 books in Europe and the U.S. His latest books in English are Poem (Dedalus, 2004) and Day (Dedalus, 2006). Or has also published 5 volumes of his own translation into Hebrew and a fictional epic in metered prose, The Song of Tahira (2001). Or is the 2000 recipient of the prestigious Pleiades honour for having made “a significant contribution to modern world poetry.” He has been awarded the Bernstein Prize, the Fulbright Award for writers, and the Israeli Prime Minister’s Poetry Prize, and, for his translations from ancient Greek, the Culture Minister’s Honorary Prize. Among his awards are the fellowships at Iowa University, the Center of Jewish Studies Oxford, the Literarische Colloquium Berlin, the Heinrich Böll Foundation Ireland, and Hawthornden Castle Scotland. He has lectured and taught poetry and creative writing at Helicon Poetry School as well as in universities in Israel and Europe. He taught Ancient Greek Religion at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and has published numerous essays of poetry, classic studies, and comparative religion. Since its foundation, Or has been chief editor of the Helicon Poetry Society. He is Editor of Helicon Poetry Journal and its series of poetry books, and in 1993 he founded and developed the Helicon Hebrew-Arabic Poetry School. Or is Artistic Director of the Sha’ar International Poetry Festival and serves as National Coordinator for “Poets for Peace” (the UN sponsored UPC venture).

    (Translated from the Hebrew by Fiona Sampson and the poet)

     

    Language says: before language
    stands a language.  Language is traces
    stained by over there.
    Language says: listen now.
    You listen: here was
    echo.

     

    Take silence and try to be silent.
    Take the words and try to speak:
    beyond language, language is a wound
    from which the world flows and flows.
    Language says: is, is not, is,
    is not.  Language says: I.
    Language says: come on, let’s speak you,
    let’s handle you; come on, say
    you’ve said –

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