Literature Review Abstract
"This article focuses on the poetry of Jewish lesbian poet Irena Klepfisz, written in New York starting in the 1970s. While drawing on the tradition of Yiddish women's poetry from the first half of the twentieth century, both as scholar and poet, Klepfisz also creates a brand new, bilingual, Yiddish-English poetic mode. By mobilizing both Yiddish and English to voice her poetic and political concerns, Klepfisz stages the English/Yiddish encounter as a site where dominant norms in both languages can be challenged and new possibilities emerge. Exploring both her turn to the past and her bilingual poetry, this article reveals how Klepfisz puts her politics and scholarship to poetic practice and suggests that Klepfisz offers a model of queer translation that undoes the borders between past and present, English and Yiddish, creating a unique mode of Jewish lesbian reclamation and invention."
- Weiman-Kelman, Z. (2019). "Legible lesbian lines: The bilingual poetry of Irena Klepfisz." J Lesbian Stud: 1-15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30625072
"Salaøm" is the word for peace in Ge'ez, the ancient written language of the Aksum people who are the focus of this New Year's volume of The Year of The Poet. The Aksum may be unfamiliar to many readers and poets, yet they are one of the great civilizations begun so brightly, a counterpoint to the Greek and Roman worlds of the 1st century C.E. The Aksum forged a trading link between the Mediterranean and the Asiatic spheres. Aksum's rise to power began with international relationships and shifts in trade.
They are a now a "lost" civilization whose descendents are African Christians, Jews, and Muslims. It is an age old story of a people who couldn't get along with their neighbors, were overrun, and pushed out into isolation. This shift set in motion the decline of their civilization.
Before the common era the Aksum Queen of Sheba is said to have birthed a Solomonic dynasty that ruled Ethiopia into the modern era. In the 4th Century C.E., King Ezana declared Aksum an Orthodox Christian state and tried to find peace with the neighboring Arabs and the Jews from Aksum's Beta Israel who read scriptures and prayers in Ge’ez. And for a time, salaøm walked beside shalom. These ancient Semitic people are the ancestors of some modern Ethiopians who moved to Israel in the 1970's.
Evidence of Aksum's greatness stands even today in the heart of ancient Ethiopia: monolithic obelisks, giant stelae, royal tombs, and ancient castles—proof of a powerful African state wedged between the Eastern Roman Empire and Persia. They commanded the ivory trade with Sudan and their fleets controlled much of the Red Sea trade. They probably thought they would always be great.
But the people couldn't find peace--salaøm, salaam, shalom—in the neighborhood, couldn't find a way to co-exist and so around the 10th Century C.E. they ceased to exist—forgotten. A thousand years have passed and what have we learned of peace, international exchange and fair trade?
The poets of Inner Child Press and the Poetry Posse seek to share in poetic words our lives, our glories, and challenges, always looking for a way to learn and contribute to a peacefully coexistence with our neighbors so that we can continue to thrive alongside all who walk this earth today.
Searching for Peace in Aksum
The first seven centuries
a common era
travelers and homebodies
greeted each other
winding through Aksum
where now walk the people of
Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea,
Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen
peace in Ge'ez
the liturgical language of Aksum
now gone replaced
Amharic, Tigrigna, Orominga,
roll off the tongues
of modern peoples
Nabáda, salaam, peace
powerful words bring us inside
the circle in
Somali, Arabic, English
Hetep in Egyptian
Salaamata carries peace in Afar
the language of present people
Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Djibouti
Salām in the Tigrigna of Eritrea
while the Sudanese speak peace in English,
salaam in Juba and Sudanese Arabic
and paix in French
words to thrive by
Nabáda in the Somali
flows into salaam in Yemen
all the places where once Aksumites
Ge'ez or Classical Ethiopic—"Salām" / ሰላም (peace, salutation, safety), "Salaøm" (peace)—Ethiopia, Eritrea (liturgical).
Somali (som)—"Nabáda" (peace), "Nabad" (peace), “Ma nahad baa” (is there peace), “Nabadda maanka” (peace of mind), "Sulux" (peace), "Dajiyaan" (calm), "Xasilooni" (tranquility)—Somalia, Djibouti, Ethiopia.
Egyptian—"Hetep" (peace), "Em hotep nefer weret" (very great peace, hello)—Egypt.
Tigrinya (tir), Tigrigna, Tigriña—"Salām" / ሰላም (peace from Proto-Semitic šalām), "Selam" (peace, hello)—Eritrea.
Juba Arabic (pga), Sudanese Creole Arabic—"Salaam" (peace), "Salaam taki" (hello, literally, your peace), "Kalaas, shukran. Maa salaam taki" (that's all, thank you, goodbye (with your peace)—Southern Sudan.
Arabic Words For Peace
Together we search for peace
engage in peace
it is a creative process of words
shared, believed, spoken
suhl, salaam, hudna
the peace of submission
followers in belief
the absence of disobedience
but one will triumph
a break in violence
the absence of the negative
a peace of reconciliation
establishes relationships a new
harmony and suhl
binds individuals into a greater community
that lives inside and out
Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
أمّا ثمَرُ الرّوحِ فهوَ المَحبّةُ والفَرَحُ والسّلامُ والصّبرُ واللُطفُ والصّلاحُ والأمانَةُ 23والوَداعَةُ والعَفافُ. وما مِنْ شَريعَةٍ تنهى عَنْ هذِهِ الأشياءِ.
Arabic (arb)—"Salām" (peace), "Salaam" / سلام from the S-L-M Semitic root, "Hudna" (peace, cease-fire) or "Suhl" (peace, reconciliation)—Middle East with 280 million native speakers in North Africa, the Mideast, Central Asia, and used in liturgical services around the world.
Longing for Home
Deeply embedded in the human psyche
a longing for home
an innate hunger
buried deep in memories
a yearning for the best of what has been
the anticipation of what can
be desire for home
craving the landscape of dreams
More than a yearning for place
a pleasant memory or a dreamed of future
home is a state of being
the deep need to be anchored
secure a restored past
a transformed, fulfilled future
Ten Years Ago
It was the usual apples and honey with friends on September 18, 2001, the night before I flew home to the United States. We were celebrating Rosh Hashanah - the New Year in Tel Aviv, Israel with a warm ending to a life transforming trip. What would we do with the New Year that we had lived to see in a world altered by tragedy? Would we build stronger walls knowing that someone could still scale them? Would we find creative and sustainable ways to keep ourselves safe?
At the Ben Gurion International Airport on my way home, the security officer asked, "Do you have family in the U.S?"
I answered yes, thinking about my parents in Utah, my girlfriend, my friends and colleagues in Connecticut, an hour outside of New York City.
"Weren't you afraid to leave them at a time like this?" The officer continued as I stood in the airport named for Israeli Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, who said, "Courage is a special kind of knowledge: the knowledge of how to fear what ought to be feared and how not to fear what ought not to be feared." He also said, “In Israel, in order to be a realist you must believe in miracles.”
"It wasn't a time like this, when I said yes to my Israeli trained mentor and boss at the multidisciplinary alternative medicine clinic in West Hartford, Connecticut where I worked. It wasn't a time like this when I bought my ticket and arranged to fly to our Israel clinic to lend my expertise in brain and nervous system disorders. It wasn't a time like this when I dreamed of scuba diving in the Red Sea in the waters, Jacque Cousteau called the most beautiful place on earth."
The Red Sea
Just 12 days earlier, I stood fully geared up in Scuba equipment in Dahab, Egypt on the shores of the Red Sea fulfilling a lifelong dream.
"No one wants me here but the shop keepers along the beach and they only want my American dollars. My friends and family questioned my sanity. How can you go to the Middle East at a time like this? They asked."
I thought a lot about safety, as I passed through three check points with Egyptian soldiers with guns,
I'm here! Nobody wants me here, but the local shopkeepers, who are interested in my American dollars. But I have dreamed about this day for years. I have dreamed about this red sandy beach, this place, the Blue Hole, which Jacque Cousteau, the most famous scuba diver and undersea explorer called "the most beautiful place in the world."
My family and friends think I am crazy. My life insurance company deems it "High Risk Behavior" and that is just the scuba diving, not this bustling beach. I call it living passionately and experiencing the richness and vibrancy in this world. I am on a quest to embody one more experience on my life-time to do list.
Sandy Particles, Sea Waves
The red sand is hot on my bare feet. On this sunny September day as far as I can see are the rolling hills of the Sinai Desert where the Bedouins and their camels and sheep move. Across the Red Sea way in the distance is Saudi Arabia and further along is Jordan. I am the only American on this much fought over beach and back that way through three barricades manned by machine-gun-toting Egyptian soldiers is my hotel and beyond that present day Israel.
Six thousand miles from my Connecticut home, I am soon below the surface swimming through a clump of safe, boring sea grass and instantly came face to face with a pride of lionfish, small sea terrorists. Their beautiful-but-poisonous spines flow in the current like colorful streamers. The wide vertical bands of black, red and green markings, separated by a sharp white stripe camouflage the nature of these predators. Twice the size of my outspread hand, the lionfish venture close enough to touch, but I pressed my hands tight against my body. They are brave when they are hungry and hunting. With tiny eye-like structures on the business end of the spines, they distract and confuse their quarry before trapping and killing them.
In this most stunning and abundant dive spot, I am surrounded by deadly creatures. I know the Titan triggerfish on my left will aggressively guard her home, her nest, her eggs with a fierceness that will draw blood. Sitting quietly in and amongst the coral is the lionfish's deadly cousin, a stonefish with unseen spines that can penetrate the black neoprene of my protective scuba gloves. If I frighten this one with my hand, I will be dead before I reach the safety of the shore. Here in the Red Sea, predators lurk and the least visible are the most deadly. A moray eel will react aggressively if I reach my hand into his home-if I frighten him where he lives. Below me nestled in the sand is a blue spotted stingray and cone shells with small snail-like creatures carrying deadly harpoons that paralyze their fleeing prey. Green sea turtles gliding along the coral and a huge alligator fish poking her snout up from below the sandy floor waiting to ambush her prey.
The stillness is broken only by the sound of air leaving my mouth and bubbling up to the surface. Even before I encounter the lionfish and their deadly cousins, I wasn't under any illusions of safety and yet, following my passion, I pass unharmed. I feel held and safe in the water. I faced my demons in the months before reaching the Middle East, and as of this moment, I have no idea of the fear that will grip the world and close borders.
Particles, Waves and Dreams
Fred Alan Wolfe describes quantum physics as particles of experience and waves of possibility. Experiencing the lionfish and literally drifting with the waves of possibility, how could I have known that a week later the border between Egypt and Israel would be closed. A week later I was in Tel Aviv, watching the Twin Towers burn.
I am here in the Middle East because I believe people who set off on a healing journey, people who recover the quality of their lives after an injury or disease or medical diagnosis, make better choices for themselves, their families and communities. This I know from personal experience and because of the complementary medicine skills I have become passionate about on my own healing journey. I use those skills to help people heal their nervous system, improve their vision, and move more easily so they can more comfortably, appreciate their communities, and accomplish their goals.
After my dive trip, on September 4th, I feel grateful to be in Israel with friends, sharing healing modalities in a wonderful physical therapy clinic in downtown Tel Aviv. I mobilized the ankle of an Israeli soldier who was injured and experiencing the particles--the reality--of severe foot pain. She wants to experience a full, comfortable range of motion so she can walk easily and follow her dreams. Her gun and camouflage jacket sits beside the massage table as she shares with me an Israeli saying, "People with houses, shouldn't throw stones."
And I think, we are all the descendents of people who paid attention to every sound in the woods or the savannah or the desert. We are alive because our ancestors were careful. Defensive posturing runs in our blood but we live in a different time and must find a way to stop the terror and the blood running in the streets.
I connected with the physical rhythms, the heart beat, the craniosacral flow of a much-loved rabbi who is experiencing the particles of cancer. Tiny cellular terrorists run through his blood chased by the chemical and nuclear warfare of the medical establishment, fighting terror with terror. Many innocent bystanders, healthy cells will also die in this attack. The rabbi wants the war on terror in his body halted. He seeks my hand, my heart, my abilities in a desire to move into the possibility of continuing to live, learn, and share his message of hope with his community. I can't know it now but in ten years he will still be alive and well and teaching. He shares with me a quote from former Prime Minister of Israel, Golda Meir, "Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us."
I touch reflex points on a child experiencing the physical reality of cerebral palsy. Her mother dreams of a life of opportunities, movement, and communication. The desire to be there to transform these dreams into reality kept me feeling safe and happy. I gladly open my bag as I head into restaurants and wait as the trunk of the car ahead of me is inspect. It is a wonderful week of treating clients and teaching physical therapists in a Tel Aviv hospital.
On September 11, the clinic door opens. I am told of a bombing in New York. After work, I walk back to my hotel. I stopped at a falafel stand and take in the sights and smells of delicious Mediterranean food. I feel the heaviness of the day and am saddened by the violence. I don't yet realize the extent of the terror and the devastation. Later alone in my hotel room, it is there on television. I see the events of that day unfold.
Safety Begins With Passionate Dreams
The weeks leading up to my trip to Israel have been filled with friends and family questioning my sanity. Wasn't I worried about visiting Israel? Did I really think it was safe enough? What did I think about suicide bombers? Everyone has questions about how to stay safe and suggestions that maybe it would be better to wait until things improve. I listen to my friends, to my family, to my Jewish girlfriend. I feel their fears and concerns, but in those weeks before the lionfish, before the rabbi's cancer, before September 11th, I come to understand safety. I am bombarded by well-meaning-but ultimately fearful-thoughts. They don't ring true for me, rather they push me to understand how to always keep myself safe.
My recipe is follow your dreams, do what you feel passionate about, learn and live your life fully with rich experiences. This is how I keep myself safe and find myself in the right place at the right time.
Building a wall and lock the tower won't keep people from affecting you. Walls do not keep you safe, they keep you isolated. They keep you compressed. They keep your ideas and dreams from rippling out and contributing to the world. They keep out the most amazing things. If you stop doing what you love because of fear, then the terrorists and the bullies in have won.
September 12th was a day of mourning in Israel, and everyone went to work. I joined the Israelis, who have a marvelous capacity to be sad, even horrified, and still be productive and contribute their unique creativity. What I learned that day in Tel Aviv is that we let go of our fears by following our passions, by loving and creatively expressing ourselves.
A few weeks earlier, when my friends were warning me about traveling to Israel, teaching an Integrative Manual Therapy class in New York seemed like the prudent thing to do. But on that fateful day, Tel Aviv was considerably safer and I was there doing what I feel driven to do: share my skills with others and, in my way, bring peace to the world by affecting people's lives, one person at a time. Safety begins with listening to your intuition, passionately following your dreams and making choices based on what you want, not what you fear.
Kimberly Burnham, PhD (Integrative Medicine)
860-221-8510 phone and what's app. Skype: Kimberly Burnham (Spokane, Washington)
Chat with Kimberly about Parkinson's, Poetry or other Brain related issues.
Not Taking Advantage of Your Amazon Author's page?
Kimberly Burnham helps authors get their books out into the world more broadly by improving their free Amazon Author's page and book pages, posting a book review on her blog and on her LinkedIn Pulse blog (over 12,000 followers) Promotion packages start at $50. Contact her at NerveWhisperer@gmail.com. See her Amazon Author's Page.
See her list of publications including her latest book of brain health meditations, Awakenings: Peace Dictionary, Language and the Mind, a Daily Brain Health Program.
Designed to enhance memory, creativity, and inner peace, Awakenings: Peace,Dictionary, Language and the Mind, a Daily Brain Health Program is available free of charge as a Kindle eBook on February 14-15, 2019. [Click Here].
Please share and write a review on Amazon.
I am looking for guest blog opportunities and a position as poet-in-residence. My current project is writing dictionary poems using words in different languages for the English word "peace." You can read some of my poems on Poemhunter .
As poet-in-residence I would write poems on different words in different languages and broadcast them throughout the social media blogosphere. Each poem would link back to your site where the word or language appeared.
I would expect some sort of stipend and a six month to one year placement. Please contact me for details if your organization is interested in having a poet-in-residence to help get your message out. Nervewhisperer@gmial.com
Buy the print or eBook, review Awakenings then contact Kimberly for a free 20 minute brain health consultation. Email or Phone
(Regular rates $120 per hour or 10 sessions for $650.)