Who killed poetry? An Israeli perspective

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In 1988, Joseph Epstein published a provocative essay titled “Who Killed Poetry?”, which triggered a long-lasting debate on the state of Anglo-American poetry. This chapter reexamines Epstein’s cataclysmic prognostication of poetry’s downfall from an Israeli perspective. From the 1980s onward, Hebrew literary historiography has struggled mightily to sketch out the contours of poetic movements and trends in the face of an unprecedentedly fragmented field that lacks poetic paragons and a distinct center. However, the dearth of historiography of Hebrew poetry in the late 20th century in no way correlates to the vast richness and originality of poetic production of this period. Rather than asking who killed poetry, which is by no means dead, this chapter looks at the downfall of canonicity in an era of post-nationalism and identity politics. The emergence of A’rs Poetica, a group of Mizrahi Jewish poets, in the early 2010s – and particularly the debate following the publication of Roy Hasan’s “Medinat ashkenaz” (The state of Ashkenaz) – serves as a test case for the larger tectonic shifts that came to define the way we view contemporary Israeli literature.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRoutledge Handbook on Contemporary Israel
EditorsGuy Ben-Porat, Yariv Feniger, Dani Filc, Paula Kabalo, Julia Mirsky
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781000591149, 9780429281013
ISBN (Print)9780367236526
StatePublished - 2022

Publication series

NameRoutledge Handbooks

RAMBI Publications

  • rambi
  • Hebrew poetry, Modern -- History and criticism
  • Hebrew poetry -- 20th century -- Themes, motives
  • Israeli poetry -- Minority authors -- History and criticism


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