July 06


Shin Shifra

Dry thorns
like a camp of crusaders
limbs slashed
only the points of blades
the jutting of helmets--
in the rooms
blinds are drawn
tear their flesh
off tan bodies--
jasmine scents,

wild-leaved tendrils
and the exhalation of the well in the orchard
a million years ago.

Blinds are drawn.


Image: Jay Michaelson


Shin Shifra was born in 1931 in Bnei Brak, an orthodox suburb of Tel Aviv, into a family that has settled in Jerusalem in the mid-nineteenth century. She studied Kabbalah, literature and education at Hebrew University, and at Tel Aviv University, as well as Accadian and Sumerian at Bar Ilan University. In her youth, she joined the “Canaanites” – a group led by the poet Yonatan Ratosh – and Ratosh’s influence is evident especially in her early short poems and her use of archaic terms. She published several volumes of poetry, prose and literary criticism, and is a renowned translator and scholar of Accadian and Sumerian poetry. She was a feminist long before feminism became a movement, and was a natural choice as a participant in several international conferences for women writers, such as the PEN Conference in Yugoslavia, in 1989. Among her awards: The Prime Minister Award, an Akum Award, a Leah Goldberg Award, and the Tchernichovsky Award. She was awarded the Amichai Prize in 2001, and the President’s Prize in 2004.