Ronny Someck

Gabrielle David January 6, 2010

someck-typewriterRonny Someck’s poetry, which has both a local and a universal flavor, has the ability to affect readers from all over the world. Ronny was born in Baghdad in 1951 and immigrated to Israel with his family as a child. He has a BA in Hebrew Literature and Jewish Philosophy, has worked as a counselor for street children, and currently teaches literature in a secondary school as well as running writing workshops. His poetry deals with the most basic elements of daily life in an original and convincing way.

Ronny brings his readers into his own memories and combines them with the everyday reality of people whose sorrows, happiness and inner worlds have deeply affected him. Ronny’s humanistic view of the world universalizes his poetry, which is why his work has been translated into over a dozen languages.

While Ronny has published award-winning collections to international acclaim, he clearly sees himself as an ordinary man who lives day-by-day in an almost impossible political situation, creating works through observation. So instead of creating stories that promote national anthems or dictate politics, he writes poems about invisible people, the street people, the ordinary people, sometimes people in extraordinary circumstances. Through all of this, Ronny manages to maintain a sense of humanity, which is reflected in the body of works he has produced over the past twenty years. A modest soul, while Ronny takes his works and his craft very seriously, he manages not to take himself seriously. This is what makes his poetry special. This is one of the reasons why he has earned numerous awards and prizes andwhy his work can touch lives half-way around the world. He has one poetry collection available in English, The Fire Stays in Red: Poems, and Yair Mazor’s Poetic Acrobat: The Poetry of Ronny Someck, which offers a deep and compassionate contemplation of Ronny’s body of work.

Ronny has published 10 volumes of poetry, his most recent Algeria. Below are poems from this collection.

If I had another daughter
I’d call her Algeria,
and you would doff your colonial hats to me
and call me “Abu Algeria.”
In the morning, when she opened her chocolate eyes
I would say: “Now Africa is waking up,”
and she would caress the blonde on her sister’s head
certain that she had rediscovered gold.
The grains on the seashore would be her sandbox
and in the footprints of the French who fled from there
she would hide the dates that dropped from the trees.
“Algeria,” I would clasp the railing of the balcony and call to her:
“Algeria, come home, and see how I’m painting the eastern wall
with the brush of the Sun.”
Translated by Vivian Eden

She was almost my first woman and I wanted to call her Eve.
She called me Peugeot because for her I was 306.
There were a several years between us, with her in the lead, and until then
I had never taken a lift from anyone who hadn’t stopped for me.
We stood next to the fence of the agricultural school and beneath
our feet we could hear
the water in the irrigation pipes telling sweet
secrets to the earth.
“If you plant a horseshoe here,” she said, “within a year
a colt will grow.” “And if,” I replied, “you plant a fan here –
within a minute Marilyn Monroe’s flying dress will sprout.”
A second later her lips began to crumble like sand
and her tongue curled over my face
like the remains of a wave.
At that moment the world split into those who closed their eyes
and those who beat the drums on the parade grounds
of the sunset.
Therefore I did not see how the wheels of the tractor
that passed nearby whipped the waters of the puddles
and how like flying kisses the mud shrapnel sprayed
over the muscles of the clouds that had been condemned that evening
to push the sun
into the sea.
Translated by Vivian Eden

is as thin
as a napkin wiping away
crumbs of words
from under the lip.
“Have you enjoyed yourself?” it asks. “Tell your friends.”
“You haven’t? Tell us.”
And we, like the mouth, are never satisfied
with the menu of the body
and love at night’s end
is a chair reversed
on a restaurant table.
Its legs in the air,
its head in clouds of floor.
Translated by Vivian Eden

You, who will soon be touching her hands
and taking her to wherever you take her,
do not forget the piano lessons
her fingers knew at the age of nine,
the basketballs that were caressed on the way
to the net that filtered dreams
and the plasters on the imaginary cut
on the tip of her thumb.
In your imaginations draw her hand as a golden triangle
of which the sides are: Kareem Abdul-Jabar, Mozart
and God,
and when you see her finger pointing at the moon,
look at the finger.
Translated by Vivian Eden

Summer is the pencil
that is least sharp
in the seasons’ pencil case.
With it I compose
a billet-doux
to the seamstress who snipped
from women’s clothes
collars that had hidden napes
and lopped
an inch or two of winter
from the bottom of their dress.
Perhaps this year too
it will be hot
in the low-lying spots.
Translated by Vivian Eden

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Source: Gabrielle David January 6, 2010

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