Though translations of the poems of Ronny Someck have appeared in a number of recent anthologies in the U.S., the range of his voice in The Fire Stays in Red, his first collection in English, will surprise by its metaphoric leaps that can contain the serious, the profane and the comic. Someck is well-known to audiences in Israel, not only in print and but in performances of his work with accompanying musicians.

His voice is Sephardic at its roots: born in Baghdad, Soomeck grew up in a transit camp for immigrants in Tel Aviv's working class neighborhoods - his language evokes the bustle of southern Tel Aviv, with its small shops, garages, cheap restaurants, its gangs and Arab workers. As translators Moshe Dor and Barbara Goldberg write, "Someck's poems can be hot, erotic, comic, tragic - they are agape at the wonders of a tear and a tattoo, a snapshot and a bra. In what other poet do we find Tarzan, Marilyn Monroe, and cowboys battling with Rabbi Yehuda Halevi for the hearts and souls of Israelis?"

         Poem of Longing

  I long for Grandpa's acrobatics
  as he leapt
  from one sidewalk
  to another. There, at Herbert Samuel Plaza
  on freezing slabs of pavement
  by the orange banister
  near the sea.
  Where Grandpa talked
  and dreamed, dreamed and talked. Now
  I don't remember about what, but
  words flew round his lips
  like a record spinning
  on an old gramophone at 78 rpm, and Grandpa
  bowing his head to cut the wind.
  And drops of brandy from the day's celebration
  shining on his lips where we were talking, each
  in a different language
  about the same girls, the same breasts
  our rough fingers pinched and where
  we snuffed out our last cigarette
  in the same ashtray.

The Fire Stays in Red
Poems by Ronny Someck

A bilingual edition in
Hebrew & English

Translated by Moshe Dor
and Barbara Goldberg

Copublished with
University of Wisconsin Press

132 pp. + xiv, 6x9

Cloth, $24.95
ISBN 0-299-17900-1

Paper, $15.95
ISBN 0-299-17904-4

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