I'm delighted to be able to say that my poem "In the Same Key," which appears in 70 faces (Phoenicia Publishing, 2011) will be anthologized in Before There Is Nowhere to Stand (Lost Horse Press, 2012) alongside poems by many poets I respect and admire, including Naomi Shihab Nye, Alicia Ostriker, Mahmoud Darwish, and Merle Feld -- and many poets whose work I don't yet know but am excited to discover.
In 2009, as Operation Cast Lead unfolded, editors Joan Dobbie and Grace Beeler (both Jewish descendants of Holocaust survivors) issued a call for poetry. I responded to their ad in Poets & Writers, which read:
Are you Jewish or Palestinian? Of Palestinian or Jewish heritage? Please submit poetry for an anthology that strives for understanding in these troubled times. All points of view wanted in the belief that poetry can create understanding and understanding can dull hatred.
The collection which resulted from that call for submissions is now available:
In her introduction, Alicia Ostriker writes:
"Nation shall not lift up sword against nation," prophesied Isaiah in the 8th century BCE, neither shall they learn war any more.” Presently we are not holding our breath waiting for that moment. Jews have a story. Arabs have a story. Jews and Arabs can both be experts at seeing themselves as victims and the other side as implacable foes. As my engineer friend in Tel Aviv says, “It all started when he hit me back.” The story of Israel/Palestine is ugly, tragic, human. But the book you hold in your hands exists to remind you that the story is not finished.
The editors had hoped to also feature an introduction by a Palestinian poet, but were unable to make that happen. Instead they chose (with permission) to include their correspondence with, alongside two poems by, Vivian Sansour "in lieu of an introduction."
You can order the book directly from Lost Horse Press, or pre-order it from Amazon. A percentage of profits will be donated to Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam (the Oasis of Peace), a cooperative village in which Jews and Palestinians of Israeli citizenship live together in a community based on acceptance, mutual respect and cooperation. (I've written about Neve Shalom / Wahat al-Salam before.)
Contributors to the anthology are working on setting up readings in a variety of places, mostly in the US and in Israel / Palestine. I'm working on setting up a reading in western Massachusetts for the three of us who are local to my neck of the woods; I'll post about that once it's organized.
I'm looking really forward to reading this anthology. I suspect that I will find the poems in this collection moving, heartbreaking, uplifting, saddening, beautiful -- as I find the place, and the peoples, at the anthology's heart.