Israeli poet Agi Mishol to receive a top international literary prize


WARSAW, Poland (JTA) — Israeli poet Agi Mishol will receive The Zbigniew Herbert International Literary Award for 2019.

The award, given since 2013, is one of the most distinguished international literary prizes. Past winners include South African writer Breyten Breytenbach and the American poet W.S. Merwin.

The Zbigniew Herbert Foundation announced the honor on Monday. The award ceremony will take place in Warsaw on May 15.

Born in 1947 to parents who survived the Holocaust,  Mishol has written about the political situation in Israel, nature and her parents’ painful history. She is a winner of Israel’s Yehuda Amichai Poetry Prize.

The late Israeli novelist Amos Oz wrote about Mishol’s poems that “they can simultaneously recount stories, sing and dance.”

“Agi Mishol, whilst making use of supposedly simple language forms, manages to maintain the seriousness and depth of poetic meaning, and to talk about dramatic or even tragic subjects,” said Jurij Andrukhovych, this year’s jury chairman.

Mishol said she is “particularly thrilled,” as Zbigniew Herbert is one of her “most beloved and admired poets.”

Herbert (1924-1998) was a Polish poet and a member of the resistance movement during World War II. In 1991 he received the Jerusalem Prize for the Freedom of the Individual in Society.

“His poetry books, wonderfully translated to Hebrew by his friend David Weinfeld, are a continuous source of inspiration and influence on my poetry,” said Mishol.

The prize is co-financed by Poland’s Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.


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