Home – Book Review

Title – Home

Author(s) – Uvi Poznansky, Zeev Kachel

Genre – Poetry


Home is a simple word, a loaded one. You can say it in a whisper, or with a cry.” “Home” is a collection of pieces in prose and poetry, expressed as a longing in the voices of a father-daughter duo.  Zeev Kachel was an author, poet and artist whose nature of writing was mostly autobiographical – an ongoing diary of his life. He published three books in his lifetime. During his latter years, he focused his energy on painting, with his writing continuing at a more personal level that no one even knew about. He wrote poems in the last two decades of his life – poems he never shared with anyone, and were discovered by his daughter Uvi while mourning in her childhood home after his passing. Uvi Poznansky had gone to her old home for the traditional Shiva-a – the seven days period of mourning – when she stumbled upon years of her father’s unpublished poetry. Uvi came upon stacks of notes, stories, plays and poems never before seen by anyone – all written out of pain in response to Zeev’s separation from his wife. For six years from the moment of discovery, Uvi translated all of her father’s works from the original Hebrew – written over twenty years – and here she presents “Home” as a tribute to her father’s unseen works. For those keen on visiting the original, Uvi released the collection as “Ropes, Separation, Tear“.  Uvi Poznansky is an author, poet, painter and architect, and “Home” is her English translation that takes the reader on the  emotional journey of a person’s longing for home and the people in it. In addition to the bulk of her father’s works, Uvi has also inserted a few of her own prose pieces. In contrast to Zeev’s autobiographical style, Uvi writes as a storyteller – she delights in conjuring up her imagination and fleshing out her thoughts on paper.

Various pieces in “Home” give us glimpses into Zeev’s life – his first home, his childhood, how his family had to leave home on the eve of World War I, his marriage, his separation from his wife. “A Sentence Unfinished” reveals to us how Zeev had left his home in Poland, never to see his parents again. His escape from the Nazi death camp in France, his climb across the Pyrenean mountains, and finding his way into Spain – where he feels like “the storyteller whose listeners have left him; locked in a world of no sound…“, left to express his anguish through his writings. “The pen is his weapon. Letter by letter, mark by mark, it will soon draw him into a different state of mind. This is his escape.” Zeev writes on a myriad of issues plaguing daily life – his life as a poet, missing his parents, the changing seasons, growing old, forgiveness, regrets. “My Teachers” is about those who taught him – the weather, time, dreams – “They punished me harshly with their rods, Instilled joy of creation within my crumbling walls.”

Some of the verses I particularly liked were:
Sucked in by a force, I’m flying through a tunnel
The tunnel of memory that leads me back home.
“This Is The Place”
That door sealed him off, away from all danger
Except from the depth of the danger within
No one could intrude here, except for the stranger
Who would carry him off to where his end would begin.
“Not One Is Home” (1987)
Two apartments I own – not one is home
I have acquaintances, among whom I’m alone
And a laurel wreath, with thorns around my dome.
I’ve cast in the anchor
And yet, I’m far blown.
“Your Advocate, Your Voice” (1989)
Where’s the hand for which I’ve been waiting
The hand of the one under a mask
My savior, for whom I’ve been praying
When would he execute me, I ask?
I bolted and chained every lock here
Thinking of the noose he would tie
So weary am I, suspended in fear
Dreading to live or to die.
“Never Have The Days” (1989)
Never have the days passed by so slowly
Never has time crawled, ever so frightfully
The bad time, it stretches on, up to no end
The good time fleets, like lightning you can’t wend.
And what shall we remember? Both times as yet
One day, perhaps, good and bad we’ll regret.
The collection is wonderfully curated as Uvi, through the words of her father, takes us around her house – each poem filling in a corner of her home. Whether people, furniture, accessories, memories, relationships, activities – just about any mundane task one would engage in at home – Zeev has created poetry out of most ordinary experiences, and Uvi has brought out that beauty in her translation. What does home mean to you? A simple question that has universal emotions attached to it, the entire gamut of which the book covers. A lot of emotions run through the pages, and this is not a quick, fluffy read. Aside of Zeev’s struggle and longing in his lifetime, Uvi’s own feelings come through in her translations – that of a daughter not knowing of the existence of twenty years of her father’s writings, and then trying her best to show them to the world after his death, in the vein he would have intended them to be expressed. The writing is poignant and painful, chilling in a way that gives you goosebumps, while certain verses can drive you to tears. “Home” is so impeccable, it doesn’t feel like a translated book.
Uvi has designed the cover on the book herself – a fish-eye perspective of a drawing of her childhood home, in the aftermath of her father’s death. Books falling off shelves, lamp swinging like a pendulum, overturned side table, blank pages floating on the floor – all the things that defined her father that he will never use again. The room appears tilted – reflecting the earthquake-like effect left from her father’s death. Uvi had originally used this sketch on an oil painting titled “My Father’s Armchair”, which later became the cover of this book.
A must-read book for poetry lovers, that just about any reader would enjoy because home is a place we all identify with – wherever we might live. It also makes us dwell over our relationships with our parents/children – How much do we actually know of the people we live with? Why do certain aspects only reveal themselves after death? Would Uvi have felt the same way about her childhood home if she had read her father’s longing for his while he was alive? A thought-provoking book that makes you fall in love with the simple things in life – that stays with you long after you finish reading, and leaves you looking more intently around your home at things you might have never noticed before.
Rating – 5/5

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