Please tell something about yourself for our readers.

Tali Cohen Shabtai: I see fit that a poem of mine begs to constitute a reply to this question: ‘

I am Tali I read prose only in the third person, and only translated prose, poetry, I also read in Hebrew.

I love Wislawa Szymborska, she copies in written word the creation in a brilliant fashion, and was recognized during her lifetime and was not among the female poets who danced the ‘dance of death in life’ for that I lowered her credit.

I think it’s impossible to tag in one breath! A contemporary poetess with characters that preserved the myth of the ‘cursed poetesses’. For they are found only in the underground or tomb There is no negotiation with this judgement Mainstreamism repels me. Bestsellers I do not touch. I love nonfiction books. Newspapers do not count at all as the writing and reading genre. And my therapist I address in the second person singular while omitting the third degree: “doctor”, it’s ok, it’s acceptable – many poetesses have sat in my chair in front of him Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath, and those who ended up as their own hangman. I often write in the first person singular and also to talk It is my way to circumvent myself from afar. And do not ask what I often write about! I do not like rhetorical questions that belittle my intellect.Tali Cohen Shabtai’

Beyond this poem, I’ll add that I was born in Jerusalem, Israel, the elder of two sisters. I began writing at the age of six (about which I will expand in other questions). I am known as “a poetess with poetry that has its own rules”. This is how I am in my life and my ideology, I have never and continue not to follow the unnecessary herd in my homeland – since I always felt that my experience is divided in Israel. With a broad-minded headspace and a clearly cosmopolitan worldview, I have found myself living in many foreign countries around the world.


What is your poetry all about?

Tali Cohen Shabtai:  My poetry is broody and uncompromising. It touches the essences of things that are liable to be insipid to many – from here, to find through poetry the ideal in defectiveness. The disharmony. My poetry rarely writes about the politically correct and the widespread view of the nonstandard norm, while extremely broody and maintaining an appropriate literate level.

I am not a little critical, challenge injustices and civil wrong, My poetry in the new book began being written with current events in the world outside my bubble. I write quite a lot about the issue of being loved, and am cautious of oversentimentality in anything concerning love and joy. My poetry is often characterized by non-reconciliation with the present existence, it has much involvement in anatomy of the man in the body and in my experiences with myself and beyond.

Why do you write poetry? What inspire you to write?

Tali Cohen Shabtai: This question: why do I write poetry?  It’s similar to a gigantic question like “What is life?” First, I’ll precede. I began to write poetry at the age of six following an event in which two adults argued and as a child I was helpless and could not  save the situation and calm their nerves. At the age of six I turned into the heroine of my life – the God! How? I took a pencil and journal and began to write the words that I wanted to say to the two arguers but could not – I rehabilitated, prayed and was helped by the letter that I wrote at those moments that includes a request to calm the nerves and that these figures in the argument will not lose their tempers. With a great desire for change and rehabilitation – that’s how I began to write and this is what inspires me to write to this day.

What’s more, from a young age I hail from an artistic bohemian family, at the age of 10 I already read the Even Shushan Hebrew dictionary and analyzed words’ metamorphoses so as to enrich my thirst for text and knowledge in the field of poetry. At the age of 13 – which is highly exceptional – my first poem was published about what transpired in retrospect to be ‘platonic love’ in the renowned Hebrew literary monthly Moznayim (“Scales”). I also wrote for the school newspaper and in fifth grade already took my matriculation exam in literature due to my excessive excellence.

At the end of high-school studies I was elected from 12 classes of students to write and read the speech thanking the teachers on behalf of the students. Needless to say, I suffered greatly at that time from the teachers fixing my language because I wrote at a high literate level that they simplified. Since then it has never happened again!

What gives me inspiration to write, as I said before – the desire, the instinctive reflex to react, protest, change, distort, glorify, imagine, create – it gives me a feeling of vitality, of the worthwhileness of my life, not only to live but to also exist is the root that the poetry brings me as inspiration.

One of the world’s cities in which I have lived was Oslo, the capital of Norway, where I received tremendous recognition as a poet, both in the Scandinavian media and parlor meetings, leading to a confrontation in the press with the author Jostein Gaarder about an issue at the time from his bestseller “Sophie’s World.” I mention my success in Oslo because the success brought inspiration, as did the feedback so that I would continue to create. But I still think that were it not for the success I have experienced for the past six months with my poetry published and translated into many languages and not just in Israel. To write under public consciousness I follow my guiding principle from the moment I began to write in my life and it is: “Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.” – Cyril Connolly. You need a strong character and steadfast back to be a poet these days, to remain faithful to my writing, and it also brings me the inspiration to write, in other words – to write my truth.

Beside poetry what else do you write?

Tali Cohen Shabtai:–  Apart from poetry I do not touch prose, I tried haiku once or twice – what I liked about haiku is the brevity within a structure as in my poetry I condense, and this is one of my most challenging and favorite labors.But I am not a haiku artist. I am a poet and write only poetry, and if I’ll consider the autobiography I’m writing these days – as I mentioned before, it is poetic and lyrical prose – and that is less fluent and flowing for me, but challenging. I write only thoughts and improvement sayings, and intuitive sketches.

Please tell our readers about your published book(s)?

Tali Cohen Shabtai:-  To date I have published three books of poetry. Two of them are bilingual – Hebrew and English. The last of them is intentionally in Hebrew only – I am in contacts to publish it in Europe. My first poetry book “Purple diluted in a black’s thick” was published in 2007 by Gvanim, Tel Aviv, Israel. My second poetry book “Protest” was published in 2012 by Sifrei Iton 77, Tel Aviv, Israel. My third poetry book “Nine years from you,” was published in 2018 by Sifrei Iton 77, Tel Aviv, Israel. Well then, I write more than I publish, and am happy with this rhythm. “Purple diluted in a black’s thick” – that’s my first poetry book, from my return from Oslo to Israel in 2007.

A reservoir of fine poetry from all my poetry until then, and I cherish the poetry that I wrote in my teenage years included in this book, as well as the inhibitions of first love, the nuclear family and the destiny of the poetesses with whom I found great similarity in my youth – poetesses and creators who danced the dance of death in their lifetimes, such as Sylia Plath, the Hebrew poetess Rachel, Zelda, Frida Kahlo, and others… This book is written in Hebrew with a translation to literate English.

“Protest” is a very well designed book in its visual structure and brings my message as is written on the back of the book. There is a division between the poetry in Hebrew and in English, without translation, the English poetry in itself rooted in the experiences from my stay in the United States, and not only. The Hebrew poetry is full of frictions and war, it also stands in its own right. The book has a division that separates the poetry in English from the poetry in Hebrew Behind this is my conceptual thinking to differentiate between the English that expresses my freedom, while the Hebrew expresses my exile. In the book “Nine years from you” there is much involvement in poems of the body, poems of the soul, poems about key events, “Ars Poetica” poetry. The common denominator of my books is that the cover features the object of my face, whether in a painting or an artistic photograph, I am total in my involvement in the book that I write to the last detail.

Any new publication in the new future? If so, what is it all about?

Tali Cohen Shabtai: Certainly. I have completed writing my fourth book of poetry that will number close to 350 pages, most of the book includes long poems that spread over three pages, the book was written in a process of a little over a year, and its sent to my  publishers for proofreading and editing prior to printing in 2021.

I know that in my country as a poet who writes bilingual texts, Hebrew-to-English and vice versa, but this book will be published in Hebrew separately and in English separately, and in another foreign language that I feel close to. In addition, this book also has a challenge that is characteristic of me, poems of the body and the image of a woman in all her layers. Even a few love poems – something I expressed doubts about until writing this book. It has poems of the soul and even touches the subtleties of a discerning and sensitive eye and the margins of society, as well as the helpless. The apex of this book is: the contemplative writing the blatant comments and severity and friction with what is generally accepted. Beyond this book, I have begun to write an autobiographical essay that I expect to be published in the coming years. I should point out that this year I was offered to be a linguistic editor of poets, but refused to write and restore and truncate as I deem fit a poem whose purity is reserved for another creator. I am against linguistic editing, in this matter.I mention this because I see it as relevant to this question

Thank you for your time Tali, and we look forward to reading more of your work in the future.


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