In 2011, a series of protests spread across Israel sparked by rising housing costs, the increased cost of living, and a widening gap between rich and poor. The makeshift tents that covered Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard became one of the iconic images of this protest, lending it the sobriquet “the tent protests.” Israeli poets, like Tahel Frosh, were notably active during this period, organizing public readings and distributing their poetry online and for free.
A few years later, in 2014, Tahel published her debut collection Avarice to wide acclaim. In Hebrew, the word for “avarice” is betsa, which derives from the root meaning “to break off, cut and tear apart.” Its relation to plunder, greed, and violently ill-gotten gains recurs in a number of biblical texts, but in later Hebrew texts it also refers to the breaking of bread before a blessing and to the idea of compromise, like in the English idiom “splitting the difference.”In this episode, which we recorded in Oxford, Tahel and I revisit the making of Avarice and the questions that it raises about the value of poetry and the complicated role that money plays in our lives.
Poem read in this episode:
“Dark Country” (Erets afela) from Avarice (2014, Mossad Bialik), English translation by Adriana X. Jacobs