BOOKS OF OUR AUTHORS
HELEN BAR-LEV & JOHMICHAEL SIMON
ON THEIR NEW BOOK!
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Introduction: by the authors
The people of
Israel live under a constant daily bombardment of the senses. Hues and
fragrances of each season blend into the next. Israel’s geography encloses
desert, towering mountains, lakes, seas, the modern and the ancient – all in
a country that can be traversed from north to south in a few short hours.
natural contrasts abound here, but human ones too. Jews, Moslems and
Christians all celebrate their histories of piety and strife here and the
stones of our dwelling places and temples are pock-marked with bullet holes
and blood stains. Wars follow wars with frightful regularity and we raise
our children to cherish peace and to be strong enough to defend themselves
if that hoped for day continues to fade into an unknown future.
is everywhere: we are at the same time zealots and idolaters, cousins and
sworn enemies, the environment we awake to every morning is strewn with
cyclamens and swords.
all we continue to love this tiny country with a desperate love that despite
it all, one day the words of the prophet Isaiah will take root here and that
our swords will truly be turned into ploughshares.
We hope that
this short trip of poems and paintings will give you some idea of what it is
like to live in our wonderful yet fearsome country.
Helen and Johnmichael
Foreword by Katherine L. Gordon, Author, Editor, Publisher, Judge and
Resident Columnist for Ancient Heart Magazine.
title poem “Cyclamens and Swords” leads the reader into the razor-fields of
barefoot choreography that is the daily dance of life in Israel today.
The artistic device of
Johnmichael Simon’s insights into each venture, accompanying Helen Bar-Lev’s
words and illustrations, is a gripping combination that enhances the whole
book, with two writers weaving and completing the theme like a classic
chorus: H. Bar-Lev: “sheep in a barbed wire fence”, J. Simon: “bunched
between the sprawl of Europe/and the dark shroud/over Arabia. H. Bar-Lev:
“reminding us we are still in Israel, that this is not yet paradise” “in a
forest at peace with itself/a katyusha rocket’s lob away.”
These are very talented
writers who have developed together a total immersion experience into the
literature, geography and art of the lands that birthed these
phenomena. Cyclamens and Swords will become a treasured classic, echoing as
it does so fluently, the longing, fearing and questing that marks these
troubled times. Helen Bar-Lev’s poem Beauty sums up the reader’s feelings as
we reluctantly finish this special book: “and I,/the ingrate,/ever