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Eyes, Stones

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

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.

Read the story of the making
of Eyes, Stones by
clicking here. 

Read Individual Poems: 

Letter to Jerusalem

To hold the bird and not to crush her, that is the secret. Sand turned too quickly to cement and who cares if the builders lose their arms?… (read more)

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Read on Poets.org

On a Hilltop at the Nassar Farm

This is for Amal, whose name means hope,
who thinks of each tree she’s planted like a child whose family has lived in the same place
for a hundred years… (read more)

Your Village

Once in a village that is burning
because a village is always somewhere burning 

And if you do not look because it is not your village
it is still your village… (read more)

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Featured in Calyx 263



First appeared in The Massachusetts Review