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The Book of Creatures

Raquel Chalfi

The poetic "I" in Chalfi's poetry faces the chaos that surrounds and threatens to engulf her; at the same time she craves to flow and merge with the world and its creatures. The urge to merge and flow with the world creates exciting but also perilous experiences. Fusion with the cosmic or social world, the blurring of boundaries between "I" and them, as well as total surrender, are not simple experiences. They are multi-faceted, involve contrasting essences, and Chalfi’s attitude toward them is ambivalent. For these are experiences that threaten the "I" with loss of control and a collision that may lead to the brink of insanity.
These fears are expressed, for example, in the flora and fauna that populate Chalfi’s poetry ‒ real, imaginary or hybrid creatures, sometimes marvels full of vitality, or at others monsters, such as the porcupine fish, the blue shark, the barracuda, the octopus or even brutal household objects. Contact with them is lethal and their love is predatory. These can be seen as projections of opposing emotions: feelings of power and courage, anxieties, distress, ecstatic desire and thrills.

 Compassion is the driving force behind Raquel Chalfi’s poetry…Everything in life has substance and value for her, every creature, every object, every moment … She is a poet of the love of life, and precisely when she is writing out of sorrow, humor makes an appearance in her poetry. It enables her to remove the sting from existential suffering and to make the reader laugh.   

Poet Hagit Grossman


Chalfi has a remarkable talent for depicting characters with a few brushstrokes, so that the distinction between imagination and reality, outer surface and hidden essence, are both canceled out and exposed, enabling the poem to morph into a living illustration, a spectacular show of verbal animation, a breathing, moving creature … There is a surprising freshness in her poems, perhaps because she cuts straight to the heart of a popular image, pulls it out of the childhood memory that shaped it, and pops it onto the page for us with nonchalant virtuosity.

Yedioth Ahronoth



Title The Book of Creatures
Author’s Last Name Chalfi
Author's First Name Raquel
Language(s) Hebrew, English
Publisher (Hebrew) Hakibbutz Hameuchad
Year of Publication (Hebrew) 2011
No. Pages 278 pp.
Book title - Hebrew (phonetic) Sefer Ha-Yetzurim
Representation Represented by ITHL
The second edition of the Letters of Israel festival will take place in Paris from September 8 to 18, 2017
After the success of its first edition, the Lettres d'Israël festival is gaining momentum, with an enriched program: meetings, conversations, readings , Theater, major authors and discoveries. Zeruya Shalev, Orly Castel-bloom, Ayelet Gundar-Goshen, Iris Argaman, and many more will participate. Click here for the full program:
Call for application: Artists in Residence Programme in Austria. Please note the deadline: September 18th, 2017.
In co-operation with KulturKontakt Austria, the Austrian Federal Chancellery makes available 50 residencies to visual artists / art photographers / composers / video and media artists / writers / literary translators and arts and cultural educators in Vienna and Salzburg for the year 2018. For more details:
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MHL - New webzine starting soon!