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Eyes, Stones


Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets

72 pages / 5.50 x 8.50 inches / no illustrations


  Paperback / 9780807144640 / April 2012


In this debut collection, Eyes, Stones, Elana Bell brings her heritage as the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors to consider the difficult question of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

The poems invoke characters inexorably linked to the land of Israel and Palestine. There is Zosha, a sharp-witted survivor whose burning hope for a Jewish homeland helps her endure the atrocities of the Holocaust. And there is Amal, a Palestinian whose family has worked their land for over one hundred years—through Turkish, British, Jordanian, and now Israeli rule. Other poems—inspired by interviews conducted by the poet in Israel, the Palestinian territories, and America—examine Jewish and Arab relationships to the land as biblical home, Zionist dream, modern state, and occupied territory.

Elana Bell has conducted poetry workshops for educators, women in prison, and high school students in Israel, Palestine, and throughout the five boroughs of New York City. Her poems have appeared in Harvard Review, Massachusetts Review, CALYX, and elsewhere. Bell is the writer-in-residence at the Bronx Academy of Letters and lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Advance Praise for Eyes, Stones

“Elana Bell has undertaken a task many others have avoided: facing the agony of the Palestine-Israel conflict and its history. She has done so in the only way it is possible: by writing with the compassionate voice of a translator. She gives her voice over to others without changing her vocabulary or her beat, and in this way excludes herself from the subject matter. Elements basic to life—bread, fruit, water, and rats—are here in profusion. These poems are built for our time.”—Fanny Howe

“Elana Bell has the gift of reach. Her compact, potent poems create the rich texture of worlds, exploring complicated realities and contradictions, risking empathy, bravely reaching beyond a ‘safe zone’ where only one story merits telling and one suffering deserves respect. Her voice, both tender and tough, searches for a true inheritance that includes everybody. How will people ever get anywhere better together without poems like these?”—Naomi Shihab Nye


Highlights of Eyes, Stones live performance


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