Last October I attended the Sha'ar Poetry Festival in Tel Aviv and Jaffa; the theme was Poetry from the Conflict Zone. It was organised by the Helicon Poetry School and directed by the distinguished poet Amir Or. My visit was sponsored by Literature Across Frontiers. Most events were held in the atmospheric Arabic-Hebrew Theatre in Jaffa, and included music, theatre, a panel discussion, dance, video art and an amazing rap band called System Ali. Guest poets came mostly from conflict zones, including Jagbu Dorje Tsering from Tibet (exiled in France), Senadin Musabegovic from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Chung Hee Moon from South Korea and Gearoid MacLochlainn from Northern Ireland. The local poets included some Palestinian poets, among them Samikh al-Qassem born in Galilee. Guests were given tours of Jerusalem, the Dead Sea and Galilee. This was my second visit to Jerusalem and the 'sea of death' in the Judean Desert. The view of the Old City in Jerusalem above is from the Mount of Olives.
These are 2,000 year-old olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane.
The Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
The Via Dolorosa (look for the group carrying the cross above the umbrella!) It's an intense place.
System Ali would go down a storm here. I read 5 poems with the Hebrew translations projected behind. Video by Asher Gal.
From left to right: Cai Tianxin (China), Jangbu Dorje Tsering (Tibet), Chung Hee Moon (South Korea), Amir Or (Israel), Pascale Petit (UK), Senadin Musabegovic (Bosnia-Herzegovina), Nese Yasin (Cyprus), Robert Minhinnick (Wales), Gearoid Mac Lochlainn (Northern Ireland). Photo credit Dafna Kaplan.