A Review of Ada Aharoni’s Rare Flower by Darcy CurwenPosted: 2021/04/19
THE BOOK ‘RARE FLOWER‘ BY POET ADA AHARONI
BROUGHT ME PEACE
By Darcy Curwen
“This book will profoundly change the life of every reader. It movingly connects the personal with the political,” Evelin Lindner, Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies
Dr. Ada Aharoni has been recognized globally for her work in peace, poetry, social-cultural issues, for her great contributions towards global peace and women’s issues. Ada has received prizes for her work including: winning the World Crown of Poetry, the British Council Poetry Award and the “President Shimon Peres Peace Culture Award,” to name a few. I greatly enjoyed reading, thinking about and reflecting on Ada’s book, “Rare Flower: Life, Love and Peace Poems,” published in 2012, and in Hebrew in 2021. This powerful collection of writing is guided by Ada’s lived experiences. Rare Flower is further complemented by her linguistic reservoir, sharp and detailed observations and a curiosity rooted in the quest of peace. As the reader we are transported from Cairo to Paris to Israel and beyond.
I was very moved reading about Ada’s experiences with the loss of her dear daughter Tali, to which her book titled Rare Flower is dedicated: “Talia Winkler, my brave and wonderful daughter, passed away at the age of 55, on July 8, 2011, after a courageous and creative struggle against cancer, for thirteen eventful years, in which she continued enjoying life, creating, dancing and singing.” I believe one of the biggest reasons this collection of poems is so noteworthy is because writing from a place of authenticity and vulnerability is ultimately writing from a position of strength and conviction.
Through her writing, Ada exposes the readers to themes of love, peace and change, as well as stability. In my opinion writing is a way of making meaning. Stories and poems are powerful, as they offer a profound revealing of a world of experiences. Through storytelling and her ‘Diplomatic Poetry”, Ada talks about war and peace, as well as social relationships, the past and the future. Her poem Seaweed follows:
I grapple with the edge of the taste
And shape of nuclear bombs–
Probably like deadly rotten
Mushroom and seaweed
Nuclear bombs, to me, refer to a willingness of politicians to harm others in the name of peace, using mass destruction. Through referencing (rotten) ordinary foods the readers envision a taste in their mouth and have a visceral reaction. It is understood this food is poisonous for our bodies, yet Leaders who are War-Mongers, frame war as success instead of realizing that bombs are rotten and shocking to the tongue and are as dirty onions to the whole body.
Ada’s Love, Peace and Women’s Poems
One of her love poems which impressed me, is titled The Marriage of Science and Poetry. The reason I like this title so much is because these two fields, science and poetry, are often pitted against each other as oppositional. One is viewed as objective and the other subjective. One is rational, the other is emotional. Many systems of oppression rely on binaries. Ada says, “Although our methods and tools are divergent, we both want to probe the actuality of things to investigate phenomena beyond their surfaces”.
Through writing, as a form of questioning, Ada is able to draw attention to what is often perceived as what should be good, natural and normal. The poem: “Geisha Girls,” delivers a powerful statement:
Mother, why did you tell me
They are just psychological hostesses
Sometimes singers and dancers, but nothing more?
Through Ada’s visit to a “Geisha House” in Hokkaido, in north Japan, with a Japanese Professor and his wife, Mrs. Kikuji realizes for the first time, what really goes on in Geisha Houses, where her husband goes every day after work. She then decides to leave him, and she wishes that the Geishas should ride the Tatami mat and float right out of their lives.
In her moving Women poems, Ada succeeds to show how not only men suffer in wars, but that women and children too, greatly suffer in war time and face tragic vulnerabilities. She convincingly shows how male systems of power dominate women and their bodies. In her powerful poem: You Cannot Bomb Me Anymore, she writes:
Listen, little big man,
You cannot bomb me
Because I don’t allow you
To bomb me anymore
Nor to choke
Nor rape me anymore,
For I have my own strength now
And my own creative
Using poetry to call for Peace in her poem: “Chameleon”, she writes:
Let’s help each other
Love each other
Despite our different colors,
Not hurt each other
It is such a loss of humanity, creativity and possibility, when we enact violent systems against those who are different from us, or those we perceive to be thinking and acting differently in society. In sharing with us her beautiful collection of profound and impressive poems about Peace and Love Ada gives us new feelings and perceptions about the pain of losing a child, but also about the joy and hope of living a meaningful and rich life.
In her last poem of the book’s section on “Women”, she writes in “Grandmother and the Wolf”:
They were too grim,
Those brothers Grimm,
And they had it all wrong–
For grandmothers you see,
Are very strong!
Here Ada is able to use a popular childhood story (Little Red Riding Hood via the Grimm Brothers Fairy Tales) to reimagine the narrative of a weak, feeble grandmother figure, which I interpret to reflect broader attitudes about women of all ages and girls. In the poem, at the end, it is the grandmother, who gobbles up the bad evil wolves in society, and not the other way round! Women are more than 51% of global society, and in the “Me Too” era, women too create the laws, and rule the world together with the men.
Through poem writing, Ada flips the script on the traditional and gendered narrative about the weak and defenseless, domestic Grandmother. By doing so, she opens the door for the readers to ask some of the most important questions we as individuals can ask which are: ‘Why is it this way? How did this come to be?’ Her wise, deeply thought, philosophical poems, enrich us with confidence and strength that it can be otherwise, and the time has come for a “Global Me Too – Women’s Revolution”, hinted at in her great and powerful poem: “I Am Not in Your Museum Anymore!” :
Embalmed in your
I was a zombie
A bandaged mummy
In an ancient sarcophagus
Patiently waiting centuries
For you to open the lid
When you could spare the time
I loved this poem for many reasons, first, women can no longer endure remaining under the refutable male supremacy. Women were nailed shut in a coffin of customs and circumstances, for ages, where discrimination, war and horrific damages, are considered normal. Secondly, I find it moving that the setting for this liberation of women poem is an imaginary museum, which symbolizes life, and relations of women and men in the past. By firmly declaring in her poem, “I don’t belong to your museum anymore!”, Ada tells the reader and modern society, that she, and all other women, have the right to self-determination, freedom and full equality.
This excellent book enriched me in thoughts and feelings, and it brought me new levels of hope that if I and others act to bring change, it would bring us not only Peace of mind and heart, but also Global Peace in our whole Global Village.