Mati Shemoelof

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Mati Shemoelof
KH-MATI-IMG 2097 - Copy.jpg
GenresHorror, Science Fiction
Notable worksRemnants of the Cursed Book

Mati Shemoelof (Hebrew: מתי שמואלוף‎, born July 11, 1972), is an Israeli author, poet, editor, journalist and activist. His first short story collection, "Remnants of the Cursed Book",[1] was published in 2015, and has won the 2015 award for Best Book of the Year of "Yekum Tarbut" website.[2]

Early life[edit]

Shemoelof was born and raised in Haifa, Israel. He now lives in Berlin.

Shemoelof received his BA degree from the Department of Theater at Tel Aviv University, and an MA degree in History from the University of Haifa. His MA thesis was titled, "The cultural and mythical meanings of the appearance of the character of Malcolm X in Spike Lee movie (1992)".[3] For this work, he received the Dean’s Prize of Excellence.[4] He was pursuing a PhD in Literature at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and left in order to focus on his writing.[5]

He taught at Kedma High School in Jerusalem. He also taught creative writing at Ron Vardi Center for Gifted Children,[6] and was a lecturer of Israeli culture at Minshar College in Tel Aviv.[7]

Awards and honors[edit]

  • 2017 LCB berlin sommerfest
  • 2016 Helicon International Literary festival
  • 2016 Basel International Literary Festival
  • 2015 - Best book of year prize on "Yekum Tarbut"
  • 2014 - Arab Jewish Texts—Conference, Chicago University[8]
  • 2014 - "Digital Roundtable" conference at Cornell University[9]
  • 2014 - Rabinovich Foundation Prize
  • 2014 - Contemporary Israeli Poetry from Berlin[10]
  • 2013 - ACUM – Grant
  • 2012 - A Translation workshop - Literaturwerkstatt Berlin[11]
  • 2011 - Honorable mention at "Haaretz" Annual short story contest[12]
  • 2011 - Honorable mention at "Einat" Annual Science fiction short story contest[13]
  • 2006 - Best Poetry Book of the Year (Haifa Cultural Foundation)
  • 2010 - Rabinovich Foundation Prize
  • 2001 - "Best Debut Poetry Book of the Year" (National Art Trust of the National Lottery)

Literary work[edit]

Shemoelof writing is diverse and includes poetry, drama and prose. His works have won significant recognition and prizes.

Shemoelof has published six poetry books: "The Scar Minimizer" (2001);[14] "Poetry Between Hazaz and Shemoelof" (2006);[15] "Why Don’t I write Israeli Love Songs" (2010);[16] "Appetite for Hunger" (2013),[17] "Last tango in Berlin" (2014).[18] and "Hebrew from its inner outsiders" (2017).[19]

His first short stories book was published by Kinneret Zmora-Bitan Dvir, the leading publishing company in Israel.

His works have been translated to six languages, and gained worldwide attention. A German translation of some of Shemoelof's literary pieces was done by Berlin's Literaturwerkstatt, which also invited him to Berlin to record him reading his poems on audio.[20] English translations of his works were published in major journals, such as Zeek,[21] Fusion,[22] and Arspolitica.[23] An Arabic translation of his works was recently published in several leading literary papers, including ones in Egypt[24] and in Lebanon.[25] Besides that, his works have been translated to Japanese[26] and Italian.[27]

Shemoelof was awarded several notable prizes for his works. Some notable ones are the prize for "Best Debut Poetry Book of the Year", awarded by the National Art Trust of the National Lottery, in 2001; the prize for "Best Poetry Book of the Year", awarded by the Haifa Cultural Foundation, in 2006; an Honorable Mention, awarded by the Israeli Haaretz magazine during its annual short story contest, in 2011;[28] Best poetry book of the year (Haifa Cultural Foundation 2006); and the highly appreciated Acum Prize for advocating literature in Israel, in 2013. Additionally, his play "What Has the Memorial Day Service Become" appeared in the Small-Bama festival at the University of Tel Aviv.

In addition, he co-edited several poetry anthologies: "Aduma" (Red: An Anthology of Class Poetry),[29] which had been sold in three editions since its first release in 2007; "Tehudot Zehut" (Echoing Identities) (2007),[30] an anthology addressing the issues of third generation Mizrahi Jews in Israel, in which Shemoelof's shory autobiographical story "The Icebergs of the Memory" was published; "La-Tzet!" (To Get Out!),[31] is a 2009 collection of visual art pieces and poems against the war in Gaza. "La-Tzet!" represents the ideological unification of the artistic and literary society in Israel, in revolt towards the complex political situation, and it was translated and published in both English and Arabic; "Al Tagidu BaGat", which was published in 2010 and explored the influence of the Palestinian Nakba on the Hebrew Poetry.[32] Shemoelof was also the editor of the Israeli literary journal HaKivun Mizrah (Eastward) between 2006 and 2008.

He also was publishes regularly in Israel's leading media channels. He wrote a weekly columns at Israel HaYom (Israel Today), Israel’s most popular daily newspaper, where he also posted literature reviews, and at Mako, The Internet news site of Keshet – Israel’s the most popular TV company.[33] Previously, he was a columnist at Ynet, Israel’s leading news website,[34] (Israel’s most popular news site), NRG -(Israel’s #3 news site) at Ma’ariv.,[35] and at Walla!, Israel’s most popular portal. He also appeared on TV many times, for instance, as a panel member on Popolitika (public channel TV); The Owls (culture channel TV); Channel 10 News, and others.

In 2017 he published the first chapter from his coming novel “The German Hebrew Dialogue: Studies of encounter and exchange” edited by Amir Eshel and Rachel Seelig. De Gruyter publishers. Also he published an article about Mizrahim in Berlin on Jalta magazine, volume 2. On 2018 His first booklet was published in Germany: "...reißt die Mauern die zwischen 'uns' und 'inhen'", AphorismA Verlag, 2018. [36] In 2018, he also wrote his first radio sketch for WDR channel.[37]


Shemoelof is a political and social activist, and his writing depicts subjects which he promotes.

The political nature of Shemoelof's literary work is closely tied to his activist endeavors. One representation of that is his contribution, as a co-editor, to the "Ruh Jedida - A New Spirit" project, an open letter from Israeli descendants of the Arab Jews of the middle east and north africa, to their Muslim peers living in those very countries. The letter embodies the idea of promoting change through ״intra-regional and inter-religious dialog.״.[38]

Additionally, Shemoelof is a co-founder of "Culture Guerrilla", an Israeli movement which propagates poetry as an accessible art form, and promotes political causes by means of art performed in public. Despite the usually exclusive nature of poetry and poetry reading, the movement has achieved significant success in high-profile cases regarding contemporary economical and social events, reaching front headlines in Israel, along with several journalistic mentions abroad, the most notable of which was a New York Times article.[39] In 2013, the "Culture Guerrilla" publishers, under Shemoelof’s supervision, edited two editions of the new Mizrahi poetry collective named "Ars Poetics" that became one of the leading stages of the Mizrahi art scene in Israel.[40] Shemoelof is also the co-founder of the Israeli Poets Union.[41]

Shemoelof has engaged in extensive volunteer work. He was a founding member of the Haifa branch of the political info-shop, Salon Mazal.[42] He volunteered in Keshet, The Democratic Rainbow Organization,[43] as a researcher and spokesman for five years. He co-founded the multi-ethnical annual workshops in Tel Aviv for Ashkenazi and Mizrahi cultural movements at Beit Leyvik[44] House for Yiddish writers.[45] He contributed critical texts to several plastic art shows at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art [46] and at Bezalel Academy of Arts.[47]

Between 2006 and 2008, Shemoelof was part of MiMizrach Shemesh, an organization devoted to the Jewish tradition of social responsibility.

Shemoleof temporarily relocated to Berlin in September 2013. He considers it to be a political act, in order to rewrite the context of the Jewish national and creative revival. He sees the Israeli literary diapsora in Berlin as an endeavor to create an alternate narrative for the history of modern Jewish literature, which is usually exclusively entwined with the birthing of the state of Israel. He is one of founders of the Poetic Hafla, a multi-language Poetry-Art-Music parties in Berlin.



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