An evening to celebrate Amir Eshel’s book of poems
From Desert to Desert
Prof. Galili Shahar,
Prof. Na’ama Rokem,
Dr. Shira Stav,
Dr. Giddon Ticotsky
Responder: Prof. Amir Eshel
Please register on the Leo Baeck Institute Jerusalem
Amir Eshel’s path in poetry is an unusual one. As a budding poet, who Tuvia Rübner took under his wing, in 1990 he published a handful of promising poems in the journal Agra, edited by Natan Zach, and since then has published no poetry. During the intervening decades Eshel focused on his academic career (he currently serves as professor of German and comparative literature at Stanford University in California). Nevertheless, he continued to write poetry, honed his expression, and developed his skills.
In 2018 his poetry emerged from this prolonged dormancy more mature and complete, like a resplendent flower that appeared overnight, which, to paraphrase Amichai’s poem, struggled all summer to flower within the patient earth and gathered strength. Eshel’s book of poems Rishumim, which was issued that year in a bilingual Hebrew-German edition, is an exceptionally adept and sensitive dialog with the works of the renowned German painter Gerhard Richter, who contributed a selection of his drawings to the book.
The book Between Deserts expands the scope of Rishumim and offers an impressive and excellent body of poetry that places Eshel alongside the poets of his generation, those born in the 1960s, albeit from a distinctive position: that of a son of the Hebrew language and culture who writes about it from a distance. From this perspective, the prolonged period of dormancy runs parallel to the geographical distance from which the poems were written: both are the energizing force necessary for producing a work of art, according to James Joyce. Like most of Eshel’s poetry, this book comprises a series of cycles that lend it a wealth of perspectives on experiences and feelings shaped within it in a perpetual movement between such different and yet close cultures and worlds – with love, and with a lover’s wounds.