Yona Wallach
Translated by Linda Zisquit

Suddenly I Become

Suddenly I become a cowardly person
Why didn’t I get praise for my courage
And why didn’t I turn into a braver man
And where’s the standard that was mine
And someone else and why exactly me.

Suddenly I’m a cowardly person
As to what I wrote, my name disappeared. Someone else wrote this a person
brave strong beautiful
And I meanwhile am a small nut, floating on my seabed pink and round
What is left of me may it be for a blessing
Forgive the mistake, didn’t mean it, so what.


Yona Wallach was an Israeli poet. Wallach was active in the “Tel Aviv poets” circle which emerged around the journals Achshav and Siman Kriah in the 1960s, and was a frequent contributor to Israeli literary periodicals. She also wrote for and appeared with an Israeli rock group, and in 1982 her poetry was set to music and a record released. Characterized by “an abundance of nervous energy,” Yona Wallach’s work combines elements from rock and roll, Jungian psychology and street slang in a body of work known for its break-neck pace and insistent sexuality. Writing in fluid lines, refusing to be limited by any conventional poetic structures, Wallach took upon herself the feminine revolution in Hebrew poetry. Presenting a provocative, blatantly sexual female figure, she became a stylistic model for many women poets [Wikipedia].

Linda Stern Zisquit has published five full-length collections of poetry, most recently Return from Elsewhere (2014) and Havoc: New & Selected Poems (2013). Her other books are The Face in the Window (2004),Unopened Letters (1996), and Ritual Bath (1993). Her translations from Hebrew poetry include These Mountains: Selected Poems of Rivka Miriam(2010), a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award, Let the Words: Selected Poems of Yona Wallach (2006), Wild Light: Selected Poems of Yona Wallach (1997), for which she received an NEA Translation Grant, and Desert Poems of Yehuda Amichai (1991). Born in Buffalo, NY, Zisquit has lived in Jerusalem with her husband and five children since 1978; she is Associate Professor and Poetry Coordinator for the MA in Creative Writing Program at Bar Ilan University, and runs ARTSPACE, an art gallery in Jerusalem representing contemporary artists.