Poetry. Jewish Studies. On writing CITY OF SKYPAPERS: "CITY OF SKYPAPERS was an effort of daily writing in Tel Aviv for a span of about three years during which time I tried to inhabit and reconcile Jewish sacred time (holidays, Shabbat, daily prayer rituals) with private, social, and civil secular time—two wars with their worries and missiles, explosions, and a sense of solidarity, as well, with beloved friends in Gaza or West Bank, a custody lawsuit, daily small-scale agriculture, running along the Yarkon river, riding public transportation in Tel Aviv and Ramat-Gan, teaching, friendship, love and its disappointments, mothering. It attempts an openness to the daily world, and an attention to these details, charged by an interpenetration of the sacred and the secular, aspirations and reality. I wanted to mimic in writing the way the mind works, the reality its imagination builds, the relationships it creates, among people, objects, and geography.
"My technique involved a morning ritual of moving through time in space—running, bussing, urban farming, preparation for Shabbat or holiday or for work, all the while attending to the details of the ritual. I would write down observations, and then, to separate out what was essential, I would place the writing in a poetic form—ottava rima, sonnet, heroic couplet, or syllabic, usually. Sometimes the forms fit, and highlighted the essential. Sometimes the forms did not, and I let them fall, but the exercise was useful in identifying the heart of each piece. Sometimes the routines were disrupted by war, internal travel, bureaucracy gone awry, and other trauma. These provided intense opportunities of observance and attention to the human condition in the worlds we create, and the worlds that were made before we arrived on the scene."
Marcela Sulak is the author of CITY OF SKYPAPERS (Black Lawrence Press, 2021), MOUTH FULL OF SEEDS (Black Lawrence Press, 2020), DECENCY (Black Lawrence Press, 2015), and IMMIGRANT (Black Lawrence Press, 2010). Sulak, who translates from the Hebrew, Czech, and French, is a 2019 NEA Translation Fellow, and her fourth book-length translation of poetry: Twenty Girls to Envy Me: Selected Poems of Orit Gidali, was nominated for the 2017 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation (University of Texas Press). Her essays have appeared in The Boston Review, The Iowa Review, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Asymptote, and Gulf Coast online, among others. She coordinates the poetry track of the Shaindy Rudoff Graduate Program in Creative Writing at Bar-Ilan University, where she is an associate professor in American Literature. She also edits The Ilanot Review and hosts the TLV.1 Radio podcast, Israel in Translation.Author City: Tel Aviv ISR