Orthodox Jewish Mom Becomes Rising Star of Poetry Slam
The kerchief on her head and long skirt she was wearing didn’t stop Zvia Margaliot, an Orthodox Jewish wife and mother from Jerusalem, from winning the Poetry Slam competition last week at Tel Aviv’s Levontin 7 club.
As opposed to many spoken-word (memorized text) artists as well as prophets of doom or ordinary street-corner poets, Margaliot does not preach anything; on the contrary, she succeeded in conveying her profound ideas through a great deal of humor and charm.
At Poetry Slam, Margaliot performed two of her original selections: In “Charity Will Save From Death,” she spoke about her complex relationship with the poor of Jerusalem, while “A Third Breast” was about breast feeding, couples and family.
“May He be blessed and His name be blessed, who created His world/ With such fatal disharmony, with such total lack of coordination/ Between nothing and not a thing/ Eternity he gave to stones, and to words, to world-famous poets, the poor things. And to me he gave dishes,/ laundry, laundry, yes, why hide it/ And the nights that end only when the three of us are already exhausted,/ And to be the materials from which poems are created,” she declaimed towards the end of the “The Third Breast.”
While the audience was still surprised by the words, Margaliot took an artistic pause, then ended the selection with a line that resolved the ostensible contradiction contained in her blessing. To those interested in hearing how, she will take part in another evening of Poetry Slam tomorrow at Jerusalem’s Avram Bar.
Margaliot, 29, studied acting and works as a tour guide in Jerusalem. She says she does theatrical tours in which she plays imaginary Jerusalem characters, and under cover of these characters performs spoken-word selections. “I started to do spoken word - and discovered that that’s what it’s called - about half a year ago, when I was pregnant with my daughter. I write poetry, but I think that there’s something very annoying about poetry: All the pomp that accompanies it, that heaviness at poetry evenings. On the other hand, ‘spoken’ has the atmosphere of the slam, in other words of a contest. You have to be relevant, to speak simply, in everyday language. I like that.”