Aharon Shabtai

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Aharon Shabtai (Hebrew: אהרון שבתאי born 1939) is one of the Hebrew language's leading poets, as well as a translator of Greek drama into Hebrew.


He studied Greek and philosophy in Jerusalem, at the Sorbonne and at Cambridge, and he teaches literature in Tel Aviv University. As a poet, he has published some 20 books, and English translations of his poetry have appeared in numerous journals, including the American Poetry Review, the London Review of Books, and Parnassus: Poetry in Review.

His poetic style had varied through the years, spanning between minimalist, warm, romantic poetry ("The Domestic Poem"), through controversial erotic poetry ("Ziva") and to fierce political poetry ("Sun Sun"). Shabtai had often attracted fire from critics on his refusal to stick to a singular writing voice throughout the years, and his stylistic changes have been mockingly referred to as depending on whoever was his wife or significant other at the time.

Shabtai is an outspoken critic of Israeli policies in the Palestinian territories, and of human rights violations against Palestinians. In 2006, he refused to participate in the Eizenberg Shalom International Poetry Festival in Jerusalem, writing that he opposed "an international poetry festival in a city in which the Arab inhabitants are oppressed systematically and cruelly imprisoned between walls, deprived of their rights and living spaces, humiliated in checkpoints and [in which] the international laws are violated." In the summer of 2006 he opposed Israel's bombing raids against Lebanon.

He is the brother of Yaakov Shabtai, author of the novel Past Continuous, and was married to the linguist and political activist Professor Tanya Reinhart until her death in 2007.


  • In 1993, Shabtai received the Israeli Prime Minister's Prize For his translations.
  • In 1999, Shabtai was awarded the Tchernichovsky Prize for exemplary translation.


In Hebrew[edit]

  • Shemesh Shemesh (Sun Sun), Hargol, 2006
  • Artzenu (Our Land), Ha-kibbutz ha-meuchad, 2002
  • Politiqa (Politics), Even Hoshen, 1999
  • Be-xodesh May ha-nifla’ (In the Wonderful Month of May), Siman Qri’a/ Ha-kibbutz ha-meuchad, 1997
  • Ha-lev (The Heart), Siman Qri’a/ Ha-kibbutz ha-meuchad, 1995
  • Metaziviqa (Metazivika), Zmora Bitan, 1992
  • Ziva (Ziva), Zmora Bitan, 1990
  • Gerushin (Divorce), Mosad Bialik, 1990
  • Ahava (Love), ‛Am ‛Oved, 1988
  • Begin (Begin), Keter, 1986
  • Ha-hartza’a ha-rishona (The First Lecture), ‛Akhshav, 1985
  • Sefer ha-klum (The Book of Nothing), Sifriyat Po‛alim, 1982
  • Ha-xamor (The Donkey), ‛Eqed, 1982
  • Xut (Thread), Proza, 1981
  • Xara’, mavet (Shit, Death), ‛Akhshav, 1979
  • Ha-po’ema ha-beytit (The Domestic Poem), Siman Qri’a, 1976
  • Qibbutz (Kibbutz), Ha-kibbutz ha-meuchad, 1973
  • Xadar ha-morim (Teachers’ Room), ‛Akhshav, 1966

In French[edit]

Le Poème Domestique, Editions de l’Éclat (Paris), 1987 La Première Lecture, Editions de l’Éclat (Paris), 1990

In English[edit]

Love and Other Poems, The Sheep Meadow Press (New York), 1997 J’accuse, New Directions (New York), 2003