Wallach, Yona

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WALLACH, YONA (1944–1985), Israeli poet. Wallach was born in Tel Aviv and was an active member of the literary group known as the "Tel Aviv poets," a circle which emerged around the literary journals Akhshav and Siman Keriah in the 1960s, with the aim of imbuing Hebrew poetry with an avant-garde, daring spirit. Her first collection, Devarim ("Things"), appeared in 1966, followed during her lifetime by Shenei Ganim ("Two Gardens," 1969), Shirim (1976), and Or Pere ("Wild Light," 1983). She also wrote for and appeared with an Israeli rock group, and in 1982 some of her poems were set to music and recorded. Wallach, one of the most original, venturesome voices in contemporary Hebrew poetry, explores inner processes of emotion and perception, reflects on the energies of the feminine body, on the ambiguities of sexual fulfillment, and is indeed one of the first feminine revolutionaries in Israeli writing. Written in fluid lines, her lyrical verse defies conventional poetic structures, offering her readers deliberately provocative, subversive lines of utmost intensity. Little wonder then that her poetry was considered obscene and tasteless, as when she mentioned the tefillin in a poem describing the sexual act. Yigal Sarnah wrote her biography (1993), portraying a woman who in her habits and life-style, as well as in her artistic work (be it poetry or performance of rock music) always sought the extreme. After her early death, "Selected Poems 1963–1985" was published. An English volume with poems appeared in 1997 and individual poems have been translated into a number of languages. For information concerning translation, see the ithl website at www.ithl.org.il.


D. Zilberman, Ha-Ivrit Hi Ishah Mitḥappeset: Sheloshah Perakim al Shiratah shel Y. Wallach (1990); Y. Mazor, "The Sexual Sound and the Flowery Fury: The Role of Y. Wallach in Contemporary Hebrew Poetry," in: Modern Judaism, 16:3 (1996), 263–90; L. Rattok, Al Shirat Y. Wallach (1997); R. Kartun-Blum, Profane Scriptures (1999); E. Feliu, "Yona Wallach o la Ilum salvatge," in: Tamid, 3 (2000–2001), 119–54; E. Negev, Close Encounters with Twenty Israeli Writers (2003); Z. Cohen Lidovsky, "Loosen the Fetters of Thy Tongue, Woman": The Poetry and the Poetics of Y. Wallach (2003).

[Anat Feinberg (2nd ed.)]