A Room of My Own

by Yudit Shahar

I don`t have five hundred pounds Sterling, Virginia,

And I don`t have a room of my own,

I have two children

Two rooms

Two jobs

And two bank accounts–

Both in the red,

And I have a heritage and heredity

And a skimpy teacher`s wage.

Five hundred pounds I don`t have, Virginia,

Nor a room of my own,

I have a pen and paper

And a paralyzed passion

And pale light pouring silently

Through a window,

Half shut

And half agape.

It takes courage for a poet or writer to lock horns with Virginia Woolf, and leave the battlefield with health and reputation not only intact, but enhanced. Yudit Shahar is indeed, a single mother, raising two children in two rooms in Petah Tikva, with two jobs, one of which is as a teacher at high school. Because of the harsh social environment she lives in, her poetry is deeply concerned about the connection of writing with reality. Poetry should not only be an existential process, but reflect everyday concerns in a common language accessible to all. To live it, is to understand it. The trials and tribulations of the working class at work, and in survival mode, is paramount to her work. She transforms her experience into poetry, and gives us a glimpse into what being poor in modern Israel is all about. Far from being the Promised Land of plenty for the Jewish Diaspora, it is an environment of survival much like any other.



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