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 Valerie Gillies and the poet)


    They are losing themselves in the streets of Tel Aviv,
    they leave the country in ecstasy caravans;
    shadow and light tear their bodies apart,
    they spread out their hands to fend off the least breath,
    their faces gape and their spirit is blowing.

    They fix you with an eye, and their soul is in the eye,
    and when they see that you see it
    they cover themselves with darkness.
    Neither buying nor selling, their presence is absence,
    they shatter silently, straying without feet

    far away from the dealers in slaves and in weapons,
    blunted by pain, painful their bluntness,
    quietly they drift up like dust from the land
    to lose their way in the wastes of the galaxy.
    If you know where they are,
    you have to answer for their souls
    and for yours.