Tuesday, March 1, 2022






MARCH 2022

MARIA MIRAGLIA: When did you approach poetry?





MARIA MIRAGLIA:  Do you think of anyone to dedicate your words when writing?


TALI COHEN SHABTAI: I wrote about it in the poem "A Message"


‘To err is a human weakness. To forgive is a divine virtue.’

The loftiest of my triumphs is to forgive is when my works

are rejected

so you can see on the first page

of my book the names of the rejecters

with a blessing of thanksgiving


Indeed, of all the pages of the book, the dedication page alone is the author's most

private domain and I stumble from my habits to write

this time

dedication to some people in short versions.

Although this kind of dedication was intended for my enjoyment

and the objects of the dedication,

I also had no sentiments left in me

for the dearest man in my life.’


But this is not carried out in practice

In my new book, the dedication at the opening of the book

is to remind me that my right hand and borrowing another finger from my left hand

count the sum of the six creators that my books

are dedicated to – it’s my firm statement

as a creator and a person

and derived from a reliable tactic as a poet.

I love passers-by, acquaintances that cannot keep up with time, I love strangers because I'm a stranger.

But until the dedication, who knows maybe the next book I'll dedicate to the homeless woman I sat with in Los Angeles at 2:00 A.M.,

when she managed through the darkness

to tell me that my eyes were sad. -After all, I imported them all the way from Israel,

a country I won't dedicate a word to if I was already dealing with the “dedication”

and that "A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and home.” I am a proven example of that.

Enough has been said about it.



MARIA MIRAGLIA:  Air, water, earth and fire. What element would you like to be in poetic terms?


TALI COHEN SHABTAI: The poet Zelda wrote a poem in her life in which she draws an analogy between two types of women, one with the element of "fire" and the other "earth." I corresponded with this poem in a poem I wrote "Two Elements: Reconstruction,” in my book “Nine Years From You.”  The poem metaphorically presents two elements represented by the flame and the cypress – the source of the flame in the fire element and the source of the cypress in the earth element. In my poem, I am perceived as the fire element: “the flame,” and on the other hand: the earth element are the women without a hint of frenzy and freedom, without a hint of imagination, they are silent and relaxed in contrast to me: and the flame rages. I'm captive to my own conventions, anyone as quiet and stable as the cypress type in the poem is the earth element that is dry and unimaginative. I would, if only for a few moments, choose the element that contrasts me: the element of earth, only to feel what it is like to come into being without a shred of madness, without a shred of logic, without a shred of freedom like the women of the earth element that awaken from their slumber in another galaxy…And they are on another way of a paragraph with a beginning, middle and end. A road without multiple lanes, no traffic arrangements are required and there is always some separation area. I would like to be, if only for a few moments, the earth element like the women sitting in front of me now in a lecture on medieval literature and all they are concerned about are the handkerchiefs on their heads and the babysitter they left at home while in it something was raging. The women of the earth type: For me, their ideology is organized according to stations: wife, mother and professional.  In conclusion: "We were perceived by the human eye as two elements: both for "cypress" – for the earth and I am "for fire" – for the flame. Yes. If for moments I would want to be like these women of the earth element that I would not understand, I will never understand.



MARIA MIRAGLIA:  Do you listen to music while writing? If so, what kind?


TALI COHEN SHABTAI: Music with a nerve conductor and anecdotes that will shock my subconscious as I will bleed from the intensity blood is an effective allegory when a woman like me writes. I cannot bear bland music – it does not have the vibration at all to provoke mute words. It is also advisable to have music that provokes involuntary distortions of crying between the five walls when I write. I use music regardless of religion, race and gender. I do not fixate on a single genre of music that contradicts my preference for the versatility and heterogeneity that my mindset likes when I spread my wings while I write beyond time also any kind of music that will challenge my intellect and opinion when I write – surely, I need at the end of a work to reach catharsis!



MARIA MIRAGLIA:  What did you feel when you held your first book  in  the hands?


TALI COHEN SHABTAI: It happened in 2006, when I was returning from a very long stay in Oslo, Norway. I left the Tel Aviv publishers to an unknown café, put bright red lipstick on my lips, wore huge rounded glasses from the 1960s that reach the middle of the nose and hide the middle of the eye located at the front of the head and well conceals the muscles of the “outside eyes” in each of my human eye sockets.  I wrote a purple dahlia flower and placed it behind the ear, on the side of my hair, the flower looked so pristine and more beautiful than any of the ornaments that female directors purchase in [upmarket] Medina Square.” And I broadcasted vitality. An anonymous man started talking to me and gave me a fictitious CD of him singing and playing the disk as I recall was the thickness of a standard Bristol board page and he left. I was happy to publish my first book even though most of my discourses and manuscripts do not amount to the tally of books I publish, and never amounted to that. I admit that I felt joy but also realistic! i.e., the book in my hand is not at all authorization that I am a poet, sorry, with all due respect, I am a poet from the age of six.



MARIA MIRAGLIA:  Where does poetry come from?


TALI COHEN SHABTAI: As opposed to “writing” concretely: My poetry comes from the heart. One of the theories that reinforce this is that the heart is the organ of life, a dynamic organ, a pulsating and necessary organ, and this proves very nicely that as long as my heart counts the qualities that I mentioned anatomically, then its mental characterization also works quite well – it is a static situation that preserves life in me. You don’t have to be a genius to realize that in a simplified interpretation I mean that as long as I live means I cannot allow my poetry to rest and this, delight in its honestly to me. All in all, the heart is an organ with a very significant and even prestigious title and pedigree and it awe-inspiringly knows to work together with my right hand when I write my poetry.



MARIA MIRAGLIA:  Is there a time of the day when you prefer writing?


TALI COHEN SHABTAI: I don't have meetings in my weekly schedule with muses and receiving inspirations at certain times of the day. However, you will often find in my frontal diary a black marker note "Finish/work on the poem "___" today."  The answer: I don’t have one. I am enslaved to my poetry, sleeping with a notepad the next day awaking with basic notes for a new poem from the brilliance of my head in the twilight zone that is the time between wakefulness and sleep the night before the day after my birth already lives in a new poem.



MARIA MIRAGLIA:  Does writing come from the heart or from the mind?


TALI COHEN SHABTAI: I don't know what the heart holds inside it, to be honest I don't touch the heart with my hands when I write and not at the highest part of my body: my head. I just know to recognize when I need to proactively vomit my words onto the page, like getting rid of food that is painful/rotten that I ate or was exposed to, thus avoiding receiving harmful and painful substances for my life. Of course, see this as a metaphor, too. Writing here is an auxiliary tool, among other things, for this. The writing comes as a reflex resembling a gag reflex. The sensitivity of this reflex is comparable to my writing reflex, part of which is to prevent unwanted objects from entering the throat of my life and of course, to prevent choking situations and spill the words in order to receive oxygen means release and problematic expression. For this purpose, among other reasons, I write.



MARIA MIRAGLIA:  What do you think of poetry and poets on the web?


TALI COHEN SHABTAI: It’s agreeable, for all the contempt and unbearable ease of crossing a border that an individual is willing to sacrifice for the publication of a poem in order to receive applause in the language of the internet. I am also published online but make a firm separation between the virtual and life, it is important that there be this proportion when it comes to, for example, a website that is the largest online social network in the world, and is available in more than 70 languages, with 800 million online activists on a daily basis. Everything else I'd rather save and keep to myself regarding this issue.



MARIA MIRAGLIA:  Who are your favourite contemporary poets and why?




TALI COHEN SHABTAI, born in Jerusalem, Israel, is a highly-esteemed international poet with works translated into many languages. She has authored three bilingual volumes of poetry, "Purple Diluted in a Black’s Thick"(2007), "Protest" (2012) and "Nine Years From You"(2018). A fourth volume is forthcoming in 2022. Tali began writing poetry at the age of six. She lived for many years in Oslo, Norway, and the U.S.A., and her poems express both the spiritual and physical freedom paradox of exile. Her cosmopolitan vision is obvious in her writings. Tali is known in her country as a prominent poet with a unique narrative. As one commentator wrote: “She doesn’t give herself easily, but is subject to her own rules.”


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