Yehuda Amichai, the Unlikely National Poet
This article offers a reading of Yehuda Amichai's protests against being dubbed a national poet as a performative and rhetorical act that, along with the translation of his poetry, paradoxically helped to situate him as Israel's national poet. The author explores Amichai's "translatability" as a self-perpetuating myth at the heart of the debate about his national poet status. He understood the implications of translation for his career and perhaps, to a certain extent, his reception, which placed his work as eminently translatable (by virtue of having been translated) and his poetics as simple, colloquial and unpretentious. Amichai's "Israeli everyman" poetics the ambivalence his works project toward nationalist ideology and institutionalized forms of power-alongside his proactive involvement in translation, have marked him as a nonnationalist national poetprimarily outside of Israel and among Anglophone readers. Rather than functioning as a reflection of a mainstream Israeli literary opinion, the idea that Amichai might be a national poet challenges dominant literary prescriptions on the subject, unwittingly creating a space for a transgressive nonnationalist national poetics with the skeptical, ambivalent poet at its center.
Talpaz, Sheera. 2021. "Yehuda Amichai, the Unlikely National Poet." Prooftexts 38(3): 623-647.
Indiana University Press