Two Seasons in Israel – Peace and War

Two Seasons in IsraelBy Rick Black

In Two Seasons in Israel, award-winning book artist and poet Rick Black takes readers on a journey through the stark images of Israel’s landscape—images of peace and war, of hope and fear and the way in which they blend together.

Arab and Jew
walk past each other:
blind alleyway

Black, who worked as a reporter for three years in the Jerusalem bureau of The New York Times, blends together his keen eye for detail and a subtle sense of irony. Here you’ll discover haiku in Jerusalem’s alleyways and the Galilee’s orchards, at war memorials and religious shrines.

“I knew that I would never be able to capture the essence of the country, its paradoxes and contradictions, in my reporting,” says Black. “The language of journalism and dictates of the newspaper trade simply would not allow it.”

When he first revisited Israel in the mid-1990s, he decided to use haiku — that well-known, short Japanese nature poem — in order to write about Israel. He wanted to focus intently on specific moments that reflect the heartrending nature of daily life. So, he made connections between olive trees and refugee camps, military cemeteries and blossoming rosemary, great blue herons and F-16s.

“I hope that these haiku will help provide a glimpse of the country’s ironies and in a small way inspire hope in a region so in need of it,” says Black, who covered the first Palestinian intifada and the first Persian Gulf war as well as many other stories.

Even though haiku are more associated with nature than peace and war, he is not the first to tap the genre’s versatility. In fact, Black was inspired by Nick Virgilio, a fellow New Jersey poet, who wrote eloquently about the loss of his brother in the Vietnam War.

In subsequent visits over the years, Black wrote numerous haiku. Ironically, the smallness of haiku quite aptly mirrors the tiny size of Israel. These poems are like silent witnesses of a torn country. Can one find peace in a land so riven by war? Black answers the question with a poem that’s almost a prayer in itself.

last clouds—
if only the violence would
drift away, too  

Perfect binding. 167pp, 5.25 x 8 in.
200 poems
18 b&w photos


sample poems:

1918 cemetery
young olive branches shoot
towards the sky

sign posted
at the Latrun monastery:
“Don’t hurt the flowers”

in Jerusalem
even the people are
covered by dust

polished shoes
during the memorial service:
perfectly still

purple bougainvillea
beyond the barbed wire
flowering wildly

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Other work about Israel

Please feel free to check our artist books, poetry, prints and cards:

Akedah: The Binding of YitzhakAkedah: The Binding of Yitzhak is an artist book about the haunting Biblical story of God commanding Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac.

The Amichai Windows – An homage to one of the greatest Hebrew poets, The Amichai Windows is a bilingual artist book of Yehuda Amichai poems that opens a window on love, war, and being Jewish today.

Peace and War: A Collection of Haiku From Israel – With a unique dos-a-dos (back-to-back) binding, Peace and War in Israel combines two books into one and fits comfortably in your hand.

Star of David – Black’s prize-winning collection of free verse poems about wrestling with his Jewish heritage and coming to terms with his wartime experiences as a reporter in Israel.

Jerusalem Prints – A collection of colorful images of Jerusalem captured from Black’s lengthy walks around the city. He has digitally enhanced these images to saturate the colors and bring the city’s landmarks and back alleys alive.

Jerusalem Notecards – A collection of colorful note cards of Jerusalem made from Black’s images of the city.

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