The University of Wisconsin Press

Poetry / Israeli Literature / Middle Eastern Literature


The Fire Stays in Red
Ronny Someck
A Bilingual Edition in Hebrew and English
Translated by Moshe Dor and Barbara Goldberg

“My mother dreams in Arabic, I dream in Hebrew.”—Ronny Someck

Born in 1951, he was uprooted from his native Iraq when he was four. Transplanted to Israel, Someck spent his childhood in a transit camp for new immigrants. There he was surrounded by music, the great singers Umm Kulthum, Farid al Atrash, and Fairuz shouldering up against Elvis Presley and Billie Holiday. No wonder he is so beloved in Israel. In what other poet do we find Tarzan, Marilyn Monroe, and cowboys battling with Rabbi Yehuda Halevi for the hearts and souls of Israelis?

Someck’s poems are rich in slang and distinguished by staccato rhythms, quick cuts, close-ups, and disturbing segues. As in film noir, the sensations are of speed, danger, uncertainty. His distinct Sephardi voice invokes the odors of falafel and schwarma, the army with its supporting cast of recruits and commandos, the bustle of southern Tel Aviv with its small garages, shops, cheap restaurants, its gangs and its Arab workers. He is also the troubadour of the lovelorn, with poems that are hot, erotic, comic, tragic, agape at the wonders of a tear and a tattoo and a snapshot and a bra and a scarecrow.

Ronny Someck is the author of eight books of poetry, and his work has been translated into twenty-two languages, including Arabic, Catalan, and Albanian. Translators Moshe Dor and Barbara Goldberg edited The Stones Remember: Native Israeli Poetry (The Word Works), winner of the Witter Bynner Foundation Award; and After the First Rain: Israeli Poems on War & Peace (Syracuse University Press and Dryad Press). Dor, recipient of the Bialik Prize, Israel’s top literary award, is the author of more than 30 books. Goldberg is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Armand G. Erpf Award from Columbia University's Translation Center; she has published three books of poetry as well as three in Hebrew translation.

Click here to listen to an interview with Ronny Someck on the program “Israel in Translation” on radio.

Copublished with Dryad Press

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May 2002
144 pp.    5 1/2 x 8 1/2

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