Helicon Society for the Advancement of Poetry in Israel
Helicon Society for the Advancement of Poetry in Israel was jointly founded in 1990 by the poet Amir Or, Helicon’s chief editor and artistic director, and by Irit Sela. Helicon is a poetry journal, a poetry press, a training centre for young poets, a producer of poetry performances, an initiator of interactive ventures between poetry and the other arts, a promoter of communication and sharing among poets writing in the various languages of Israel – Hebrew, Arabic, English, Russian and more – and an importer of poetry from the world into Israel and an exporter of Israeli poetry to the world. In short, Helicon is an independent locus and catalyst for poetry. Helicon is a non-profit organization, headed by an executive committee. The present chairman of the committee is Dr. Liora Barash-Morgenstern and the general director is Tziona Sahmai.
Our mission statement:
1. To be the frontrunner in nurturing poetic culture in Israel,
2. To bring people closer through poetry,
3. To bring new audiences to poetry and poetry to new audiences,
4. To supply a permanent and appropriate platform for poets and their poetry,
5. To foster poetry’s future generation,
6. To integrate poetry within local educational and cultural frameworks.
In addition to Sha’ar International Poetry Festival Helicon's initiatives include:
Helicon Poetry Journal: Publication of a poetry journal which has become a central platform for poetry in Israel. The journal has been published regularly since 1990, and today has 5 issues a year. The print-run of each issue is about 600 but some have a second edition.Its objective is: “To supply a necessary platform for poets and poetry and to enable continuousand available publication of poetry in Hebrew to culture enthusiasts in Israel.” Helicon Journal has set itself the aim of expressing poetry’s point of view on human themes pertaining to us all, and supplying suitable exposure for young writers. Almost seventy issues have been published so far, including contemporary and classic poetry alongside first publications, translations and visual art works by Israeli artists. Prominent poets, translators and artists have been published in Helicon, including: T. Carmi, Tuvia Rubner, David Avidan, Shimon Zandbank, Hezi Leskli, Hayim Gouri, Yoram Brunovski, Ronny Someck, Agi Mishol, Aminadav Dykman, Dan Daor. Translated poets range from Ancient Greek, Indian, Chinese, or Scandinavian poetry, via Shakespeare, Marlowe, Blake, Tagor, etc. to Plath, Auden, Paz, Neruda, Tanikawa… the list could fill some pages.
Helicon Poetry School was established in 1993, and teaches self-editing, translation, poetry performance, poetics and creative writing. The school is scholarship based and is aimed for Hebrew and Arabic poets at the outset of their careers. The School includes:
1. A Poetry Class for Beginning Poets – founded 1993, and since 2001 became bilingual.
2. Graduates Master Class – founded 2003, based on personal projects, for chosen graduates of the poetry classes.
3. A Seminar for Poetry Instructors – starting this year. Helicon Poetry School is a multi-disciplinary framework which bestows poetic knowledge upon the next generation of poets in Israel
Helicon Cabaret: was founded as a poetry theatre, aims to revive the contact between the poetic word and its listeners by giving poetry a live stage, promoting interdisciplinary artistic approaches to poetry, and bringing new audiences closer to poetry. The cabaret takes place once a month and includes poetry reading, discussion and multimedia, with poets, translators and performers participating. Artists from various fields, in various languages and of various ages meet, and the events are held in an informal atmosphere. An annual Cabaret event is produced for the international “Bridge between Cultures” initiated by the UN, and under the auspices of UNESCO and the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Helicon Publishing House: Helicon has published over twenty poetry books so far, and its logo represents quality to every book lover in Israel. Helicon publishes two poetry series: 1. Helicon Poetry Series – poetry books by renowned poets as a platform for high quality contemporary Hebrew poetry; 2. Pegasus Series – first collections by selected young poets.
Helicon on the Internet: 1. The “Shireshet” Hebrew site for poetry education: is dedicated to contemporary Hebrew poetry and is the largest of its kind in Israel. It was founded in 1998 together with Snunit, the Hebrew University’s information centre for education and teachers. The purposes of the site are: to give service and information to students, teachers, researchers and lovers of Hebrew poetry in Israel and abroad; to give tools for teaching poetry in schools; to encourage poetry reading and experiencing writing; and to support young poets and offer them appropriate critical standards. The site’s contents include: Poets reading their poetry, Poetry Reading – a shared interpretative reading of poetry, a workshop of poetry writing, Poems of Tel Aviv, Helicon Forum, etc. 2. Helicon’s home page:www.helicon.org.il, in Hebrew with English pages, covers the whole range of the organisation’s work.
Poetry within the Community: Since 2002, Helicon has been operating, in collaboration with the Rishon Lezion municipality, a pilot project for work within a community. The project included meetings between poets and high-school pupils, a creative poetry writing workshop, and a final evening event, in which the community’s work was exhibited alongside that of the guest poets. Following this success we are now seeking funding to apply this model to its full potential in the community, and offer it to other communities as well.