Panel Names Winners of Top Israeli Poetry Prize

Prof. Haviva Pedaya, Mois Ben Harash to be awarded the Yehuda Amichai Prize for Hebrew Poetry, with a purse of NIS 30,000.

Maya Sela
Maya Sela
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Maya Sela
Maya Sela

Prof. Haviva Pedaya and Mois Ben Harash are the recipients of this year's Yehuda Amichai Prize for Hebrew Poetry, the award's panel announced, with the NIS 30,000 purse to be granted a Jerusalem ceremony next month.

The Yehuda Amichai Prize for Hebrew poetry is granted by the City of Jerusalem and the Ministry of Culture to mark poets for collections published in the last seven years or for his lifetime's work. The award's declared purposes are the preservation and circulation of Amichai's poetic heritage; encouraging Israeli poets and creation.

Mois Ben Harash and Haviva Padaya.Credit: Daniel Tchetchik and Yael Engel hart

Past recipients of the award include Sh. Shifra, Agi Mishol, Roni Somek, and Nurit Zarchi.

Pedaya will receive the award for D'yo Adam (Human Ink) collection of poems published by Hakibbutz Hameuchad in 2009, while Ben Harash will be noted for his Lo Holech Le'Shum Makom (Not Going Anywhere), published by Resisei Nehara in 2010.

Prof. Galit Hazan-Rokem chaired this year's committee, which was also comprised of Dr. Anat Weisman and author Meir Shalev.

In their comments, the prize committee lauded what it said was the beauty, uniqueness, power, and independence manifest in Pedaya's collection, adding that "the complexity of Pedaya's poetic language realizes the complexity of experiences folded within it."

"Pedaya moves between deep, almost nave faith in an omnipotent, all-encompassing God and an intimate and provocative dialogue with God for his plainly imperfect creation," the panel added.

Referring on Ben Harah's work, the panel referred to what it said was his confrontational, wild, and justice-seeking mode of writing, saying that "Ben Harash's poetic phrasing combines self-deprecating humor, and the effect of a direct, honest and uncensored speech."

In addition, panel members wrote that Ben Harah "forces us to deal directly with questions of identity and belonging, immigration and disenfranchisement, recognition and choice."

"Along with the poet, we enter a trap set by the reality of those who are here, meaning, those who 'aren't going anywhere,'" the panel added, "saying that he writes poetry "that isn't nice, but he is found worth of the prize despite and because of that quality."

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