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The Writers Forum at SUNY Brockport

Yehuda Amichai -- Poet

Host(s): Stan Sanvel Rubin and Judith Kitchen

Tape order number: V-331

Visit Date: October 22, 1986

Length: 38 minutes

Brief Summary: Amichai discusses his conception of endless time, his sense that we are all a summation of all time and all history. The poet is different only in the degree to which he pays attention to language. His discusses his roots in Jewish culture and texts and acknowledges this influence in his work. Amichai describes an "easy" writing style, casually recording thoughts on scraps of paper that may or may not work themselves into poems. Amichai admires American poetry, and admonishes American poets for what he perceives to be an inferiority complex. He argues that the absence of pressing or controlling issues or conflicts in our culture (with a few notable exceptions) frees poets to deal with their true experience. Amichai talks about his role as a political poet and the contribution of poetry to national political movements. The specific composition of "Travels of the Last Benjamin of Tudela" is discussed with regard to the historic events of 1967. There is an extensive discussion on the use of metaphor that Amichai calls the "most important invention of humankind and a major breakthrough for human nature."

Work(s) Discussed:

  • "Travels of the Last Benjamin of Tudela"
  • Selected Poetry

Work(s) Read:

  • "A Man Does Not Have Time"
  • "Gifts of Love"
  • "You Can Rely On Him"

Writers mentioned:

  • Dylan Thomas
  • T. S. Eliot
  • W. H. Auden
  • Umberto Saba
  • Octavio Paz
  • Ted Hughes
  • Montaigne

The watch on your wrist is the tip of the iceberg of time.

-- Yehuda Amichai

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