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Interview with Tali, The Author of Nine Years From You

Tali Cohen Shabtai is a poet, she was born in Jerusalem, Israel. She began writing poetry at the age of six, she had been an excellent student of literature. She began her writings by publishing her impressions in the school’s newspaper. First of all, she published her poetry in a prestigious literary magazine of Israel ‘Moznayim’ when she was fifteen years old.

Tali has written three poetry books: "Purple Diluted in a Black’s Thick", (bilingual 2007), "Protest"(bilingual 2012) and "Nine Years From You" (2018).

Tali’s poems express spiritual and physical exile. She is studying her exile and freedom paradox, her cosmopolitan vision is very obvious in her writings. She lived in Oslo Norway and in the U.S.A. She is very prominent as a poet with a special lyric, "she doesn’t give herself easily, but subject to her own rules".

Tali studied at the "David Yellin College of Education" for a bachelor's degree. She is a member of the Hebrew Writers Association and the Israeli Writers Association in the state of Israel.

In 2014, Cohen Shabtai also participated in a Norwegian documentary about poets' lives called "The Last Bohemian"- "Den Siste Bohemien", and screened in the cinema in Scandinavia.

By 2020, her fourth book of poetry will be published which will also be published in Norway. Her literary works have been translated into many languages as well.

Ravi: The Best piece of writing advice?

Tali: A few insights:

  1. “Poetry” is not welcoming to predefined audiences, let alone those who worship it.

  2. Remember, having a “heartbeat in your hand” is not a thesis for anyone to be known for.

  3. The level of populism and the number of a writer's books are not an induction for the title "Poet".

  4. Flattery is not suitable for the literary world.

  5. To a poet who begins to publish their works under the eyes of the public consciousness – I would advise them to continue to be loyal to their writing – in other words, ‘better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.’ Also, to command the things that stimulate in you the inspirations for writing.

Ravi: Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Tali: To be honest, I have never used the term or adjective “fatigue” in anything related to my writing, Interesting.

Indeed, when I think about it there is while writing a poem a subtle sense, of toil.

But it is accompanied by the patriotism of a poet who expresses herself without letting internal stimuli during writing make me weary, as well as not let the focus and concentration that are high when I write tire me.

I experience while writing: in ingredients from

the catharsis including aging, purifying or from greening.

I have in me the tenacity/persistence to complete a poem until drawing blood, until its high point – until the rationalism = the mind, the body = the soul will reach my satisfaction, in a nutshell, that they reach catharsis that is the high point after which comes the calm.

An amazing feeling!

Ravi: What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?

Tali: To stop being different, to be simple like in the poem by the Hebrew poetess Zelda “Two Elements” To be, without a hint of frenzy, without a shred of logic – like those women not just metaphorically but practically with a different way of paragraph With a beginning, middle and end through without multiple routes, there is no need for traffic arrangements and there is always some area of separation.

I would like to be without a shred of freedom like these women whose ideology is organized

according to stations: ife, mother, and professional—

but it's irreversible, I was meant for a world of thought and word.

If I may, I’ll add that as a writer and poet I might have given up my reflections like I keep my most private life and avoid exposing it: In the little I do / the jaw muscles that have hardened every smiling movement will be seen.

There is a parallel here with Wisława Szymborska In her saying “Maybe in the next age,

the age of public exposure, will I be avant-garde.”

But when I think of it, that won’t necessarily make me a better writer rather more popular – that’s for sure.

Ravi: What was your hardest scene to write?

Tali: Look, writing, for me – I worry to the point of destruction.

To the bone Until secretion So So much To experience and document the scenes without selectiveness of the level of mental endurance

I do so exactly like producing from a shrub the fruit that I don’t always particularly like.

Thus I use flesh and blood to pay them off to poems, and no! They are mainly people I do not like – but I have to do them justice and be true to my mission as a poet

and write about them, and especially if they are brought into scenes that are difficult to write

otherwise how would I stimulate my intellect? How would I challenge objectively or collectively without

touching this trigger that belongs to events and scenes that are considered hard to write

so much so that the difficulty often expresses itself physically?

I don’t write fairy tales, it’s from me onwards

I “risk” friction with the dark side of life, where the hard scenes volunteer their existence without an account, where I often taste things for the

first time if only to feel the sensation not according to the literal

definition – so, every following morning at 7 o’clock I

have inspiration on my desk.

And this doesn’t just arouse curiosity

it’s a tactic, a tactic of a poetess.

So this answers the question without bringing a specific example as a reply to a multiple-choice question.

Why and wherefore and whether I wrote about scenes/events that were experienced as difficult for me to write. The reply unequivocally amounts to a big ‘yes’ and not just the one hardest scene, there are levels of difficulty that cannot be measured.

Ravi: Do you Google yourself?

Tali: No.

It creates a kind of dissociative feeling.

I have enough portraits to see myself in and they’re not from the internet.

I’m a sinner in an artist’s ego and have a considerable amount of narcissism, so you’d expect me to tell you that I look for my existence on Google – but no

Satisfying my narcissism is done not in front of a screen but in reality.

And what is important is my creations and their quality, the amount and number of listings are not an index in my lexicon.

Ravi: Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

Tali: That’s a lovely question –

it feels like it was created for me.

Many are the secrets in my poetry. And even in hindsight, I found many times prophecies I wrote that came true, and that was not what I wrote them for.

But I worry about my need to understand whether to write directly or to disguise. There are cases of a message to people that I have been through with them some kind of experience, often, in these cases I will make sure to contact them without a patch of secrets.

But as much as I can hide, I believe that it is impossible as a polish to hide the secrets inherent in my poetry, since there is an archeology of the soul, there's an analysis of humanity that has become wise with the language of poetry

and so I wrote in the poem here, which also answers the question and illustrates this claim

here is the (my) poem:


Should the creator close

his mouth when his work

begins to speak?

And this should come from the assumption

that his mouth is truly

his own

and he does not wear


man's mouth

in the morning

And if he does,

It is probable that his bother

will shut

her mouth

will not help and this


every confessional work


an "analysis of

his neurosis"


he will never succeed, whether

loud chatter

or silence.

To leave his writing


the tongue is a direct agreement

between his heart

and readers

so, should he



Think of his children

If to be, then be a poet.

Ravi: How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Tali: The number of books is not an indication for me, the truth is never

since in my perspective to be a poetess is not just to be a person who writes poems. There are personality traits that are absorbed according to the occupation – for those who understand.

And thus I wrote in the poem “Dedication to Myself”: I live a poetesses’ life / more than I publish / them.

“I have passed through all the stations / all my celebrity / in history / that strangers do not know

Page 27 of the book “Nine Years From You,” 2018.

That is dozens of books, including deliberations, expressions, notes, journals, essays, prose, poems and more… most of them were not published out of choice.

I have written and even declared this in the past during my life:

“My books are tiny pieces of one great work.”

Also, I am regarded by my mind as a poet with humility. I do not market and publish a lot as a poet compared with what's on the market.

I am very much in the making, and in my way what, how much and when to publish, if at all.

The books didn’t make me a poet – this poetry spark has existed since I was six.

In the question, you use the term "how much" – for me quantitatively has no place in my poetry. Would it say something else about me if I told you that my new book has close to 300 pages of autobiographical poems?

What difference does it make?

Ravi: What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer? Vieille

Tali: I write poetry but avoid any influence of those in the same realm, involvement with them is further from “the city of God.”

Indeed, there is a cross-referencing here with the Polish artist Zdzislaw Beksinski who avoided public appearances and maintained that he should not “be influenced by other painters” and even refrained from visiting museums.

It's perceived as extreme, but what to expect from a poet like me whose life as a poet is life in foreign countries rather than her home country? How can you ask her (me) "How do they help you be a better writer?"

When I am known in my country as "a poet with an emphatic personal style with poetry subject to her own rules"?

Surely, it is derived from this that I have my own rules not only in my writing, but in my personality, and in my ideology.

Surely, if that is how it is, there is no opening here to let another influence me to become a "better writer."

What’s more,

there’s no need to mention which poets I'm friends with, but I’ll offer two pieces I've written about two of them, out of the goodness of our relationship.

The first – the deep friendship with a heavy writer from Jerusalem with whom I shared the same house for a period.

I live with a vieille dame

Among her Prozac and cigarettes

She welcomed me by a first introduction

With Anne Sexton's book in 1967

She gave me a contract to stay neurotic in her Hous And behave like Petite Muette beside her bedroom

At that time she looked like a hostess in a house of ill

Repute, Walking like a salonnière in her salon littéraire (never with visitors)

With that appearance of Maison-close, then

She invited men to clean her old furniture

From new dust

I met her first seven years ago,

The time it took for her foundation

To blend un perfume, To her taste

Less than the time it took me to find

The favored delicacy for my

Lady cat

I barely could read her language, but – We were aware of the provocation of


She would not be surprised by any disgrace

I would bring into my life

Neither by any sensation, I would choose to have

In my colors le matin.

She warned me from being a

Poète maudit – a cursed poet.

I watched her, I knew.

It all started with a clothes cupboard.

And the second friend, a heavy poet aged 62 who is well-known and recognized in Scandinavia, with whom I have a real connection and brotherhood of poets since 2002, when I spent years in Oslo, the capital of Norway:

I miss you so much

My poet

I miss Oslo.

You come to visit me,

Like a platonic figure


For a woman who lost the


In a city with no drawing,

With a man stuck with a broken foot


To the celebration of the woman that I am

And the women here named the same

Perfume over ten years

While I named (at the same time)

The same pills.

This is my accompaniment

I cannot beautify

My life

As you can’t either.

So I’m eating you

A little too much – sometimes with

My ripeness.

With my clouded eyebrows

And a cigarette in

My mouth

You wear the Kippa that I bought you

With Norwegian letters

Spelling your name

There is no better tribute here

My love,

This is


Ravi: Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

Tali: There is a wall between me and the readers at the time of writing, I don’t consider what to write for whom! It’s not a painting to-order and not the client’s preferences for a prostitute.

I prefer to be my own audience then!

This question irritates me, and more than that I’m irritated by “poets” who act in this way – if so, they should revoke their title as a poet immediately.

I do consider what level of language to use, and over time I have learned with myself how to be clearly not because it’s been asked for, rather because it’s more important to me than in the past That my messages will be delivered more accurately as much as possible in poetry, if at all.

Ravi: Tell me about your recent book to our Ravi Reads Blog Readers?

Tali: I’ll bring two opinions that faithfully describe my book

“Nine Years From You”

Here’s the first opinion – The back of the book:

by the head publisher Amit Yisraeli-Gilad:

'I'm the new one.

They don’t know

where I came from.

I have to attach

the leg

to the hip

and the pelvis to the spine

That’s how it is when you separate

objects from bodies

and plant an artificial


in your eye.

Who says we can move


from their place?

Tali Cohen-Shabtai’s third book of poems continues the poet's bold move in language. A move of dismantling – and rebuilding – into a female creation that inspires awe and horror. "There must be another Tali," "Tali I don't know," "Tali is dead" she states – in a surrealist-inspired text that stubbornly strives for surgical precision – and still, "Allow with one eye or no eyes / forcing through / and be bumped a side mirror of cars."

Female entities representing rift/conflict – as Frida Kahlo, Zelda, Dahlia Ravikovitch, Gill Rosenberg and even Jerusalem – are planted and flash along it. "I offered myself to the tourists" (so the spokeswoman/Jerusalem) – handing each organ separately allows for complete abstraction, allowing the "new me" to be born, for the creation to take shape, to be in the spectacular show."

Additional description one of my book - this time by Dr.Lily Halpert Zamir, head of the Department of Adult Education and director of the Center for Women and Gender Studies, David Yellin College.

A researcher on gender and the Holocaust, she has published nine books including two books of poetry, and dozens of academic studies in international journals:

The book “Nine Years From You”

contains 107 poems in 110 pages of folded colorful kaleidoscope, full of descriptions, images and quotes, inviting the reader on a highly challenging intellectual adventure.

The book was published at the end of 2018 by the “Iton 77” publishing house, Tel Aviv, Israel.

“Tali’s poems are a hymn and freedom of opinion and thought, not as a cliché but as an experience and being of a sensitive creator whose world of emotion rests on a wide, rich and versatile world of reading, as you can learn from her world of imagery on the one hand, and the comments she makes on the margins of her poems on the other. However, this wealth is also the book's weakness, as it will challenge only those who are willing to travel to which Tali invites, that is, whose world of reading is rich enough to enjoy the ‘formation’ that Tali is willing to share."

To Know more about Tali's Nine Years From You check out this link

Thanks to Tali for agreeing to this interview! If you know of an author who’d like to be featured in an interview (or you are an author who would like to be featured), feel free to email me at the address on my contact page.

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